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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1885, by Paul Carus, at the office 

of the Librarian of Congress, Washington, D. C. 

Thb Chbrouny Printing & Pubushing Co., 
17-33 Vandewate^ St., New York. 






Preface - - - 5-7 

Kant's Philosophy 9-28 

Causality 2^-44 

First Cause and Final Cause 45-55 

The Trinity of Monism 5^-^3 

Ethics 64-77 

Definitions and Explanations ' - 78-83 






DELIVER to the American public a philosophical system, 
comprised under the name of Monism and Meliorism^'*'' two 
words which have been used by different philosophers, and which, 
for some time, have indicated, as it were, the direction of the 
development of philosophic thought 

Monism is the ideal which no one hitherto has been able to 
realize satisfactorily, though many have tried to do so. It has 
become, therefore, the watch-word of diverse parties, who lacked the 
solid basis, on which to erect the building of such a conception of 
^ the world, as might be well founded in its cornerstone and harmo- 

nious in its structure. 

The cornerstone to be chosen is causalify and the only criterion 
by which any philosophical theory can be tested and verified, is 
given in its doctrine of ethics, fiut on both subjects the greatest 
confusion prevails, feoth of them being problems, which still wait for 
a definite solution. And after sa many attempts, a new solution, in 
consonance with modem science, by which the old controversies 
may be reconciled, is extremely desirable. 

Th^ novelty of the solution here proposed does not consist in 
bringing forward new and startling views ; quite the contrary 1 The 

* We define Monism as a conception of the world which traces all things 

back to one source, thus explaining all problems from one principle; and 

Meliorism as a contemplation of life, which refusing optimism as well as 

^ pessimism, finds the purpose of living in the aspiration of a constant progress 

to some higher state of existence ; in one word, in perpetual labor for ame- 


trae philosopher must endeavor to avoid originality as much as 
possible, and cling with full concentration of mind to impartial 
investigation. Original ideas often allure and dazzle with a fine 
brilliancy, but they are treacherous owing to the veiy subjectivity 
which renders them so attractive. Objectivity in philosophical re- 
search does not create a sensation, as it does not take men's fancy ; 
yet, its results, if trae, will stand forever. And this disinterested, 
impartial objectivity will shed a new light on questions, which, dif- 
ficult in themselves, have been confounded and entangled by the 
hatred and straggle of obtruding and intervening interests. 

The latest step taken by the progressive party in philosophy, is 
the theory of the Positive School, founded by M. Auguste Comte, 
supported by Mr. John Stuart Mill and in closest relation to the 
system of Mr. Herbert Spencer. These gentlemen say that posi- 
tivism has taken its stand on positive facts. But Comte forgot the 
main point. He did not give any touchstone, which would enable 
us to distinguish, whether we have to deal with positive facts or 
with illusions. Kant did not overlook this difficulty, and it was 
through no mere child's play that he took such a seemingly round- 
about way. If he did not succeed, it was merely because he lost 
himself in the intricate paths and windings of his strange idealism 
and abandoned the problem of causaUfy, from which alone the 
solution of philosophical questions can be expected. 

Convinced of the importance of this topic, I venture an attempt 
at unravelling its Gordian knot. Cutting the knot will not do in 
philosophy, as it certainly would in politics ; and so we have to dis- 
entangle its intricacies carefully and patiently, in hope that after all 
they may be simpler than they seem to be. 

The present essay contains the chief points of my argument and 
I sincerity trast that I have succeeded so far as to have realized what 
David Hume and Immanuel Kant planned, and to have brought to 


a certain consummation what they intended to do. I hold that this 
philosophy of Monism and Meliorism ^w^ prove the natural outcome 
of former systems and will clear away many difficulties seemingly 

The plan of this little essay contains five articles, the first (K^which 
is on Kant^being merely an introduction, and, so to say, the pedestal 
of the others, in which the new theories are propounded. Causality 
is the beginning, ethics the aim and end of this philosophy. These 
two points being fixed, the whole system is sketched in its outlines. 
All other questions are of minor importance and may find their 
answers by simply drawing inferences from what has been stated on 
causality and ethics. 

It is superfluous to crave indulgence, where I may possibly have 
been mistaken. The task is diflBcult and greater men than I have 
erred regarding the same topics which I treat in this little pamphlet. 

If Kant compared his work to that of Copernicus, I may fairly 
liken mine to that of Kepler who filled out the Copemican system 
and reduced the law of motion of planets to simple mathematical 
formulae. The future will show whether my confidence is justified 
or not. Should it prove excessive, I hope, at least, that this essay 
will do something to further and give impulse to the solution of the 
deepest, the most important and the most difiicult problem of life, 
so that my work shall not have been entirely in vain, nor my labor 
altogether wasted. 


New York, 1885. 








KANT*S greatness need not be praised ; it is known 
and acknowledged wherever philosophy is studied, 
and its enormous influence on the development of Germany 
directly and of humanity indirectly may be perceived in 
literature as well as in the policy of Church and State. 
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason marks the beginning 
of a new era and, at the same time, the conclusion of 
a period longer than a thousand years. What Luther 
did for religion, and Copernicus for science, Kant has 
done for philosophic thought. He is the representative 
of the revolutionary spirit of the eighteenth century, 
which produced new humanitarian ideals and a new ar- 
rangement of society. In France the old throne of the 
Bourbons was overturned, and in America, for the first 
time, a republic was founded on the basis of individual 
freedom and human rights. A deep, wide ocean lies be- 
tween the quiet town of Konigsberg, where the German 
philosopher dwelt, and the shores of New England. But 
in spite of the distance, in spite of the physical gap, 
the movements on both sides were the result of the 
same cause ; and, occurring in the same century, were, at 
the same time, psychically connected with each other. 
However, while the revolution in France was social, and 
that of America political, the revolution inaugurated by 
Kant was philosophic. 

* This Lecture is not intended to explain the system and argu- 
mentation, but merely the drift and tendency of Kantian philosophy. 

> J 


The earthquake of the French revolution was on the 
surface ; that of Germany lay deeper, though its results 4 

were not perceived so quickly as those experienced un- 
der the terrorism in the noisy capital on the banks of 
the Seine. Kant reversed the basis, on which human 
knowledge and the ideas of "5^«/, World and God'' 
rested. He reversed it, and, pari passu^ gave the de- 
velopment of human thought a new direction. There- 
fore he was more than a mere revolutionist. Robes- 
pierre and his gang destroyed, but were unable to build 

Kant cleared the place where the rotten edifice of 
metaphysics had stood so long, and at the same time 
contrived a plan for constructing another and a better 
building, which, as expressed by himself, would not prove 
so lofty a structure, as the dome of ontologic thought 
had been, the bold spire of which was raised to the 
clouds. The edifice he proposed to build could be likened ^ 

to a mansion, neither high nor grand, without steeples 
or battlements, but simple and plain, just fit to live in. 
The systems of philosophy before Kant, though divine 
and magnificent, like the Gothic cathedral of the Middle 
ages, were castles in the air, enchantingly splendid, but 
unsubstantial and transient like the Fata Morgana. 
Kant's philosophy is neither showy nor pretentious, but 
as a compensation it has the great merit of solidity. 

Before I enter into details, let me mention that such a 
subject as Kantian philosophy can scarcely be exhausted. 
If I venture on so broad a field, devoting no more space to 
it than one article allows, I shall have to limit myself, or 
we shall be lost in the innumerable windings of a labyrinth. 
I shall confine myself, therefore, to one of the principal 
points, which, though openly laid down in Kant's works, 
has been hitherto rather too much neglected. I mean 
his dualism; it, I maintain, has been overlooked, under- 


rated and misinterpreted by many of his disciples and 
followers, and has usually been regarded as his blind 
side. This dualism of Kant's will, I trust, prove to be 
the key to his philosophy and give us admittance to the 
work-shop of his strange ideas. 

Speaking of Kant, I run the risk of being attacked by 
at least half of his adherents, for, as the Bible is inter- 
preted differently by different confessions and sects, so 
Kant's philosophy has been explained by different men 
in different ways, which are often contrary, and even 
sometimes contradictory, to each other. Such a lack of 
harmony, however, proves how little hitherto the Ko- 
nigsberg philosopher has been understood, and how far 
our time is from having outgrown or encompassed the 
gigantic expanse of his thought. 


Everywhere we perceive in this world antagonistic 
principles at war with each other. For instance, in the 
formation of the earth two forces are active, the centri- 
petal and the centrifugal. And so similar principles, op- 
posed to each other, govern the growth of social and 
political life ; everywhere there are Whigs and Tories, 
Republicans and Democrats, under diverse names. The 
same fact we perceive in the empire of philosophic 
thought, and its development seems to swing to and 
fro like a pendulum between the two extremes, giving 
ascendency now to this and now to that one. And from 
this very antagonism of hostile principles there starts 
order and arrangement. Both principles, seemingly in- 
compatible and irreconcilable, tend to the same end and 
each is indispensable in the system produced by their 


The antagonistic principles in philosophy were in their 
extremes Spiritualism^ as propounded by Berkeley, and 
Materialisnty as defended by Condillac, Holbach, and 
their French friends. In a similar way, though more 
moderately, it is shown to-day in the Realism of modern 
science and the Idealism of transcendental philosophy. 

One of these antagonistic principles, the material- 
ism of the French School, was developed in the more 
cautious English mind of Locke as Sensualism, based on 
the doctrine: Nihil est in intellectUy quod non anteafu- 
erit in sensu. And this denial of any subjective basis of 
knowledge in the human mind, or as they used to ex- 
press it, of innate ideas, led as a natural consequence to 
Hume's scepticism. Simultaneously Leibnitz's idealism in 
Germany became crystalise^ into the systematic struc- 
ture of Wolf's dogmatism. And this opposition between 
the British scepticism and the German dogmatism gave 
rise to Kant's criticism. Being born of a union of these 
bitter enemies, his philosophy shows traces of both ; 
and as they are propounded independently of and even 
in a clearly exhibited opposition to each other, we may 
call Kant's system fairly dualistic. 

It was perhaps the most difficult task for Kant's in- 
terpreters to harmonize the antagonistic principles and 
make the very contradictory views which he stated agree. 
Some tried to deny the dualism, some eliminated the con- 
tradictions in one way or another, but only a few, if any 
at all, openly accepted and acknowledged it. Even Kuno 
Fischer, who is perhaps his most impartial interpreter, is 
cautious about depicting Kant so fundamentally, dualistic 
as he is, and treats his antinomies as a kind of subordi- 
nate part in his system. 

Many-sided as he was, Kant suggested more than he 
taught. His ideas are rather innuendoes than decisions. 
Thus he incorporated the antagonistic principles of his 

• ^* • • 


time in his philosophy, but left the working out of the 
solution to posterity. However there was no one to 
undertake this task, especially as in Germany a power- 
ful reaction ensued through Hegel ; and so every one 
took from Kant what he pleased and left all other things 
of his alone. Thus Kant gave on one hand a solid basis 
to build upon, yet no dogmatic system ; and on the 
other hand, just by his want of dogmatism, his critical 
method invited and induced men of different turns of 
mind and even of opposite directions to make use of his 
materials. Every one found or could at least find some- 
thing that suited him. There were on the one side the 
philosophers of creed and faith, die Glaubenspkilosophen, 
for instance Heinrich Jacobi ; on the other extreme, 
atheists traced their very atheism back to Kant. 

In the same way all schools after Socrates took their 
start from him, and this fact alone is sufficient to show 
that both Socrates in Grecian times and Kant in our 
modern days commenced a new epoch. Although the 
period after Socrates can boast of many glorious names, 
as Plato, Aristotle, Hippocrates, Epicurus, and others, 
yet I do not believe that it was a time of advancement 
and actual progress. It went into decay at length, los- 
ing itself in the nonsence of the mysticism of Neo-Pla- 
tonism. And why } Because of the one-sidedness of the 
Grecian philosophers. After Socrates there rose no one 
who aspired to combine all the antagonistic principles 
and give each of them its due. There was no one bold 
enough to lead the maiotic (/laioorixos) method of Socra- 
tes to a monism in which the controversies of the past 
could acquiesce. 

Let us learn from old Greece. What we need in our 
days is neither Radicalism nor the philosophy of creed 
arid faith, but both united. The mere radicalism which 
leaves the heart empty, will breed superstition as a 


substitute for the loss of religion ; and the philosophy of 
creed and faith, demanding (as Prof. Stahl really did) 
that science should return to belief, leads to bigotry. And 
does not the spiritualism of our days remind us very much 
of the Neo-Platonism of ancient history 1 So one-sided- 
ness tends to the same end. At length it will make 
philosophy a scientificated superstition. So the need of 
our time is not to declare in favor of either of the opposed 
principles and, at the same time, to flatly deny the 
right of the contrary. No ! We must investigate both 
carefully, in hope that from a higher view they may be 
reconcilable and conformable. 

Granted that Kant failed, as I think he did, in com- 
bining both standpoints into a higher unity, yet he 
showed in what direction the philosophic development 
tended. Therefore it is not the results of his philosophy 
that make him great and give importance to his ideas, but. 
his method. Philosophers, however, like Auguste Comte, 
John Stuart Mill and Herbert Spencer, who imagined that 
they could easily dispense with Kant, are entirely mis- 
taken. Though Comte and his adherents condemn 
Kant simply as a metaphysical philosopher, and propose 
what they call Positivism, a philosophy of utmost radical- 
ism, as they thought, it is clear that they lack critique 
and method. They overlooked the difficulty, as they did 
not fathom the depth of Kant ; and, where Kant inquired 
carefully, weighing the pros and cons^ they jumped at their 
conclusion. They endeavored to outdo each other in 
radicalism and had no idea, that their own radicalism 
was child's play compared with the radical thoroughness 
of Kantian Critique, in spite of all the conservatism which 
Kant exhibited at the same time. 

Kant is a giant among his fellow philosophers, not 
merely because he startled the world with a new theory 
of space and time, not merely because his system is the 


greatest puzzle to the world even to-day, and certainly 
not because he has given ascendency to the radical phi- 
losophy in the face of the dogmatic doctrines which were 
very powerful in Germany in his days. Kant was not the 
hero of one faction ; he stood above parties and showed 
his greatness by embracing them all. His critical method 
is actually a principle of justice. The sceptic may have 
his say, but afterwards the dogmatist may be allowed 
to make the best of what is left and to construct his 
dogmas on the ruins of scepticism. In the Critique of 
pure reason, Kant is radical ; he shows that time and 
space are no realities, that in consequence of that, 
the world as it exists in time and space is a mere phe- 
nomenon, and that soul as well as God are nothing but 
noumena — mere concepts. We fancy that we perceive in 
the world certain purposes proving the premeditative 
wisdom of a creator, but such a teleology or doctrine of 
purposes is an imagination and simply a paralogism of 
pure reason ; for it is only according to the law of 
causality that the affairs of the world are regulated. Be- 
fore Kant, no one was so radical and thorough, and yet 
this very same man propounds in his Critique of Practical 
Reason the three postulates, God^ Freedom and Imntor- 
talityy contradicting the results of his Critique of Pure 

So Kant's philosophy appears to consist of two souls, 
the one sceptical and radical, the other dogmatic and 
believing. The greatest German poet of the same period, 
Wolfgang Goethe, in his philosophic poetry, makes Faust 
say to Wagner, who represents the philistine pedantry, 
and who, like all average men, has only one soul : 

" One impulse art thou conscious of at best, 
O never seek to know the other, 
Two souls, alas ! reside within my breast. 
And each withdraws from and repels its brother." 


Kant with his private character has not in the least 
impeached Goethe's idea of Faust. The more noteworthy- 
it is that in describing a philosopher, the poet could not 
help imputing to him a dualism similar to that of Kant. 
Goethe had the same two souls within himself ; and so 
has every great impartial man whose horizon reaches 
farther than that of the smaller creatures around and be- 
neath him. 


Yet concerning this dualism in the Kantian philos- 
ophy, it is not astonishing that people were puzzled 
and asked, which is now the real Kant. Naturally, the 
Kantians are divided into two principal camps, the radi- 
cals and the dogmatists. Both of them stand upon Kant. 
But the radicals (for instance Schopenhauer) say, that 
the real Kant is the critical philosopher, who was, as they 
pretend, so weak that he was afraid of losing his professor- 
ship, and, therefore, stooped to hypocrisy. The orthodox 
party, however, to which belong the ^lite of Germany's 
philosophically trained clergymen, think that the Kant of 
the Practical Reason is the true Kant. The Critique of 
Pure Reason is merely written, they say, to show where 
human philosophy arrives, if left to drift in its isolation, 
without divine illumination. Therefore, they infer, God 
had to reveal himself, and so practical reason teaches us 
that we have simply to accept the fundamental facts of 
such a revelation as Christianity affords, namely, the ideas 
of God^ Freedom (which means moral responsibility) and 

In answer to Schopenhauer and his adherents we must 
indeed concede that, when Kant was rebuked by the 
government, he yielded to the pressure and promised 
obedience. But this does not explain his dualism, as it 


was prior to these persecutions ; for he had nothing to 
fear under the rule of the liberal Frederick the Great. 
And when this reproof was made, Kant had already 
written all the essential books of his philosophy, and 
there is no reason for such a suspicion as that of Schopen- 

The view taken by erudite theologians has scarcely 
ever been recognized among philosophers, as it savored 
too strongly of theology. Nevertheless, if it be allowed 
to philosophers to eliminate the practical side for the sake 
of harmony, why should not theologians be permitted to 
reject the theoretical part for the same reason } The men 
that do so, consider Kant as an agnostic. If nothing 
can be said definitely against the other world and 
another life, especially if nothing can be said in favor 
of, nor anything against, the existence of God, is it then 
not best, they say, simply to accept revelation as a 
satisfactory solution of the problem of life } Well, they 
may do so, and if they feel satisfied with their philosophy 
of faith and creed, they can entirely dispense with the 
Critique of Pure Reason. Of what use is it, if the pre- 
destined end is no science, but belief "i \ 

Kant, to be sure, though he is not of the first named 
type, as the radicals interpret his philosophy, does not, 

* Max MUller, in regard to the discord about the first and second 
edition of the Critique refutes these unjust intimations and accusa- 
tions of Schopenhauer. He says ; "The active reactionary measures 
by which Kant is supposed to have been frightened, date from a later 
period. Zedlitz, Kant's friend and protector, was not replaced by 
Wollner as minister till 1788. It was not till 1794 that Kant was 
really warned and reprimanded by the cabinet ; and we must not 
judge too harshly of the old philosopher, when at his time of life 
and in the state of paternal despotism in Prussia, he wrote back to 
say, that he would do even more than was demanded of him and 
abstain in future from all public lectures concerning religion, whether 
natural or revealed." 


on the other hand, answer to the ideal of the second fac- 
tion. His Critique of Pure Reason, sweeping and thorough- 
going as it is, was at least as sincere as that of the Prac- 
tical Reason, which is constructive and conservative. 
There is no doubt that either both of these two parties 
are to be acknowledged as right and legitimate, or neither; 
and I think sufficient proof can be brought from some 
passages of Kant to convince any one that the real Kant 
is truly dualistic. 

Before we proceed to this, let me briefly mention that 
I shall merely sketch in a popular way the views of these 
two parties, knowing very well that there are shades, by 
which many of the same group characterize themselves. 
However, I do not intend, here, to distinguish but to 
classify, and there is only time to rough-hew their opinions 
and draw the picture in broad general outlines. 

Besides these two classes, who stand either on the crit- 
ical or the dogmatic Kant, there are some other Kant- 
lans who may be named the elective party. The men be- 
longing to it choose indiscriminately from Kant's ideas, 
just as they think fit. They are either dilettanti^ or, if 
philosophers by profession, marked by a lack of consis- 
tency. No doubt we find prominent men among them. 
As an instance of this latter class may be named Pro- 
fessor Felix Adler of New York, a prominent man, of 
powerful oratory, andofsincerest aspirations, whose prin- 
cipal merit is undeniably the number of practical and use- 
ful institutions which he has created. His watch-word 
Deed not creed! is the true guiding star of his work. He 
is devoted to Kantian philosophy and professes to preach 
a religion of Pure Reason. He accepts from the Critique 
of Practical Reason the idea of freedom, the Categoric 
imperative being the basis of his ethics. In answer to 
some address on the subject of the poetry of the future, 
delivered before the Nineteenth Century Club in New 


York, he defended the right of fiction and fictitious poet- 
ical personages such as fairies, gnomes and elves, to exist 
in the phantasy of our children, because, he said, poetry 
is based on the wants of our heart, and our heart will 
remain the same as it has ever been in spite of all scien- 
tific progress. Yet the idea of God he has banished from 
the nursery, as though God were no exigency of our heart 
— not even so much as any sprite or genius in the tales 
of the " Thousand and one Nights." 

The first and second class of the Kantians perceived 
the dualism and got rid of it by elimination of either 
principal, the critical or the dogmatic. The elective 
Kantians, however, overlook entirely the import of 
Kant's dualism ; and while I understand the first and 
second classes, I am quite at a loss to account for the 
inconsistency of the third class. 


According to my view, Kant was neither a hypocrite 
nor a coward, as Schopenhauer, our representative of the 
radical class, says ; nor is his Critique of Pure Reason a 
mere sham-fight, as the philosophers of faith and creed 
thought. I believe that Kant was sincere as well in his 
radicalism as in his dogmatism. He was too thorough 
not to think his critical ideas to the end, and there he 
arrived at the abyss of atheism. However, the same 
Kant was too profound to stop here. His atheism was 
no blasphemy ; and he was too good a critic — that is, 
he was too just — not to allow his opponent to have his 
say also. Pure reason is but half the soul of man. The 
other half, being the emotional part, has exactly the 
same right. And the God that lives in our hearts has not 
been touched and can not be touched by the critique of 
any pure reason. God, the phantom of religious fairy 


tales, that personified ideal of the highest and best in 
man, that glorious idol, vanished before the light of scien- 
tific investigation like night-fog before the beams of the 
rising sun. It vanished and it must vanish as do the fairy- 
tales in the child's brain. 

I know of a man who, when a boy, wept bitterly, as he 
grew more and more convinced that the fairy tales and 
the beautiful legends, myths and stories of old Greece, of 
Hercules, Theseus, and also of the dragon-killer Siegfried, 
were not true. So it is natural that we mourn to see the 
most beautiful fairy tale of the world broken down. But 
there is some comfort. Fairy tales contain in the veil of 
fiction some ideal truth. So they are, though not real, 
yet true. And so Deity itself does not break down : it is 
merely our faculty, our capacity for comprehending the 
Deity, that fails. Not Mitra is God, the personification of 
the sun according to Persian religion, not Zeus, the 
Olympian of the Greeks. He merely symbolizes the sky, 
a humanized being of what was supposed to be the high- 
est and best in nature. Moses taught Monotheism, but 
his Jehovah was only a name of the real God he 
preachdd. Allah il Allah ! cried Mohammed, but his 
Allah was too much like himself to resemble the eternal 
Deity of the Universe. He was the ideal of the Arabic 
tribes, and they were unable to grasp any higher thing. 
Christ came, and the human race learned to call God 
their Father. Alas ! again it is only a name, an allegory. 
It is expressive, however, and who denies the beauty and 
inmost truth of it } But there are always men who are 
not satisfied with what they possess of truth. They 
desire to penetrate farther into its depths, and some such 
theosophers perceived clearly that God is not a person. 
He encompasses all that is highest and best, he is all in 
all, he is the soul of the Universe. Such men were Tauler 
and Jacob Bohme. Then the philosopher steps forth 


and shows the weakness of this ontology. Kant proves 
that this God is merely a noumenon, an empty concept. 
And therewith we are at an end with the development of 
the God idea. On the one hand, there is some truth in 
the idolatry of the heathens, in the fire worship of Zoro- 
aster, in the creed of the Mohammedans. But on the 
other, there is some error also in the highest Christian 
theosophy, and the philosopher must not imagine that 
his carefully distilled ontology is really the quintessence 
of Deity. We can but say what God is not like ; so 
unsearchable is He that the veriest atheism* appears to 
come nearest the truth. 

* Kant's atheism is not at all as shallow as that of vulgar blasphe- 
mers or common freethinkers. His is that atheism of which Max 
MQller speaks in his distinction of the honest and the vulgar atheism, 
where he says : " There is ah atheism which is unto death — there 
is another atheism which is the very life-blood of all true faith. It is 
the power of giving up what in our best, our most honest, mof ^ments 
we know no longer to be true. It is the readiness to replace the less 
perfect, however dear, however sacred it may have been to us, by the 
more perfect, however much it may be detested as yet by the world. 
It is the true self-surrender, the true self-sacrifice, the truest trust in 
truth, the truest faith. Without that atheism, religion would long 
ago have become a petrified hypocrisy. Without that atheism, no 
new religion, no reform, no reformation, no resuscitation would have 
ever been possible ; without that atheism no new life is possible for 
any one of us. In the eyes of the Brahmins Buddha was an atheist. 
... In the eyes of the Athenian judges Socrates was an atheist. . . . 
In the eyes of the Jews whosoever called himself the son of God was 
a blasphemer, and whosoever worshipped the God of his father after 
that new way was a heretic. The very name of the Christians among 
Greek and Romans was atheists (aS'60i). 

" Nor did the abuse of language cease altogether among the Chri- 
stians themselves. In the eyes of Athanasius, the Arians were devils, 
anthichrists, maniacs, Jews, polytheists, atheists. And we need not 
wonder if Arius did not take a much more charitable view of the 
Athanasians. Yet both Athanasius and Arius were only striving to 
realize the highest ideal of Deity, each in his own way ; Arius fear- 


There is no doubt that Kant was scientifically a real 
atheist ; but, on the other hand, he establishes simply on 
the basis of our emotional wants the idea of God. Is it 
the sariie dogmatic God ? Kant does not tell. And it 
is even astonishing, how little trouble, — in fact, none at 
all — he takes to justify this God before the tribunal of 
pure reason. Kant leaves it to us to find ouf how the 
radical atheism, and this practical — let us rather say 
emotional — theism can be combined into a unity. How 
is it possible that yes and no are consistent and com- 
patible with each other, and how can sweet and bitter 
come from the same mouth } No ! neither he who selects 
either of these Kantian souls, nor he who takes indis- 
criminately what he pleases, is a true successor and fol- 
lower of Kant, but rather he who is able to reconcile the 

ing that Gentile, Athanasius that Jewish errors might detract from 
its truth and majesty. Nay, even in later times the same thoughtless- 
ness of expression has continued in the theological warface ... In 
the XVIth century Servetus called Calvin a trinitarian and atheist, 
while Calvin considered Servetus worthy of the stake (1553) because 
his view of Deity differed from his own." 

Max Miiller when delivering this lecture, knew his audience, 
mixed as it was, too well, not to see the danger to which he exposed 
himself. So he added : " Now I know perfectly well, that what I 
have said just now will be misunderstood, will possibly be misinter- 
preted. I know I shall be accused of having defended and glorified 
atheism and of having represented it as the last, the highest point, 
which man can reach in an evolution of religious thought. Let it 
be so ! If there are but a few here present who understand what I 
mean by honest atheism, and who know, how it differs from vulgar 
atheism, ay, from dishonest theism, I shall feel satified ; for I know 
that to understand that distinction will often help us in the hour of 
our sorest need. It will teach us, that while the old leaves 
of the bright and happy spring are falling and all seems wintry, 
there must be a new spring in store for every warm and honest 
heart. It will teach us that honest doubt is the deepest spring of 
honest faith, and that he only who has lost can find." 


contradiction of his philosophy. Kant's unmistakable 
dualism, however, is not due to a want of consistency, 
but to the fact that he is standing on the tribunal of 
justice and, being unable to decide, allows each party to 
say its mind. 

God may be likened to the sea in its vastness and 
grandeur. The diver strikes down into its depth and the 
sailor swims on its surface. The one finds precious pearls 
and corals in its abysses ; the other encompasses a cog- 
nizance of its extension, but declares it to be a stormy and 
sterile water-desert, wherein no precious things are to be 
found. The sailor is our pure reason and the diver our 
emotion. If the philosopher is not able to combine both, 
he will be either a shallow rationalist, keeping constantly 
on the surface, thus gathering his cognition superficially, 
or a thoughtless zealot, a prejudiced and one-sided bigot. 



Kant's philosophy is rigidly bold, and weak souls may 
consider it dangerous to have his doctrines taught at our 
universities. But truth is never dangerous and the earnest 
love of truth will never be detrimental. Truth is by no 
means the possession of some verity, acquired in some 
way or another, no matter how. Truth is the quality of 
being true. So it is the harmony of our subjective aspira- 
tion or love of truth, — of our veracity with the objective 
verity of the matter inquired into. Truth can not be 
stolen ; and if it be taken by stealth, it is no longer real 
truth. It is some sad verity, which proves fatal to our 
intellectual and emotional life. 

Very instructive is Schiller's pensive ballad of the veiled 
statue of Isis, in which the poet describes a youth who, 
aspiring to truth, enters one of the hierarchical schools at 


Sais. His ambition drives him from reach to reach as he 
presses upward from degree to degree, but he finds no 
satisfaction, for what is truth if communicated in single 
parts ? Or could it be possible to be in possession of a 
fraction of truth ? — While he is arguing on such subjects 
with his instructor, the hierophant — the ardent eye of the 
youth espies a shrouded statue standing in the temple. 
** What does this veil conceal ? " he asks. ** Truth itself," 
is the answer. "And you have never lifted it ? " he con- 
tinues. ** Never," the priest rejoins, ** nor have I ever 
been tempted to do so ; for the veil may be light, but 
heavy is the divine law which forbids the uncovering." 
"And yet the oracle says : he who lifts the veil, shall see 

After this discussion the youth went out secretly in the 
hush of night. He entered the temple where the tall wan 
figure stood, on which through the skylight window, the 
moon poured down her silvery pallid light. Reluctantly 
he touched the veil, still hesitating to lift it. Yet his 
desire to see truth was too ardent. He could not resist 
the temptation and lifted the veil. Well— and what did 
he see } So we ask, and many asked the same question 
of him. But he never told what he had seen. A sad 
melancholy led him to premature death, and wherever 
he. was requested to tell his secret, he replied : "Woe to 
them, who arrive at truth by the path of guilt. It will 
never be a comfort to them." 

A man who acquires a grave and important truth not 
by hard study but by frivolous license will either be 
pressed down by the burden of such forbidden knowledge, 
— a knowledge for which he was not matured, which he 
could not endure, like that youth in Schiller's ballad — or, 
what is worse, he will make light of it, and become a 
blasphemer. And the reason of this is, he really does 
not own truth — ^for truth can only be owned if deservedly 



earned. He has caught a glimpse of it, a one-sided look ; 
and that being incomplete proves to be fatal. The other 
side containing the antidote for the poison of the first is 
hidden from his profane eyes. 

How many of our clergymen are like the hierophant, 
who, bowing in silent reverence, was never tempted to 
penetrate into the depth of truth in order to unveil it ? 
But, on the other hand, how few philosophers toil on, 
thinking and striving to get hold of truth from all sides, 
like Kant, who rather acquiesced in dualism than jumped 
at hasty conclusions ? 


The sincerity of Kant's dualism is best proved by his 
antinomies or contradictions of pure reason. He says : 
(according to Max Miiller's translation, p. 352) ". . . when 
we apply reason to the objective synthesis of phenomena, 
. . .reason tries at first with gpreat plausibility to establish 
its principles of unconditioned unity, but becomes soon 
entangled in so many contradictions, that it must give up 
its pretensions. . . For here we are met by a new phe- 
nomenon in human reason, namely, a perfectly natural 
antithetic, which is not produced by any artificial efforts, 
but into which reason falls by itself and inevitably. Reason 
is, no doubt, preserved thereby from the slumber of an 
imaginary conviction, which is often produced by a purely 
one-sided illusion; but it is tempted at the same time, either 
to abandon itself to sceptical despair, or to assume a 
dogmatical obstinacy, taking its stand on certain as- 
sertions, without granting a hearing, and doing justice 
to the arguments of the opponents. In both cases a 
death-blow is dealt to sound philosophy, although in 
the former we might speak of the euthanasia of pure 



And further, Kant says (p. 364), " a dialectic proposition 
of pure reason must have these characteristics to dis- 
tinguish it from purely sophistical propositions, that it 
does not refer to a gratuitous question, but to one which 
human reason in its natural progress must necessarily 
encounter," etc. 

" As impartial judges, we must take no account of 
whether it be the good or the bad cause which the two 
champions defend." 

And the antinomies are as follows : 

I. Thesis. The world has a beginning in time and is 
limited also with regard to space. 

1. Antithesis, The world has no beginning and no 
limits in space, but is infinite in respect both to time and 

(It is the problem of creation as to whether there is a 
first cause or no.) 

2. Thesis, Every compound substance in the world 
consists of simple parts, and nothing exists anywhere but 
the simple or what it is composed of. 

2. Antithesis. No compound thing in the world con- 
sists of simple parts, and there exists nowhere in the 
world anything simple. 

(This antinomy is quaintly expressed. To go at once 
to the bottom of what Kant proposes, the thesis declares 
the soul to be immortal, and the antithesis says human 
soul is a composition and therefore not immortal.) 

3. Thesis. Causality, according to the laws of nature, 
is not the only causality from which all the phenomena of 
the world can be deduced. In order to account for these 
phenomena it is necessary also to admit another caus- 
ality, that of freedom. 

3. Antithesis. There is no freedom ; but everything in 
the world takes place entirely according to the laws of 


4. Thesis. There exists an absolutely necessary Be- 
ing belonging to the world, either as a part or as the 
cause of it. 

4. Antithesis. There nowhere exists an absolutely 
necessary Being within or without the world as the 
cause of it. 


As the discussion is limited strictly to Kant's dualism, 
which has been explained and proved, at least in its out- 
lines, let us hasten to our conclusion. Kant, in spite of 
his atheism, felt that the idea of God contains a truth 
which no radicalism can blot out. And although he 
recognized that there is but one law ruling the affairs 
of this world, viz., causality, implying necessity to every- 
thing, without exception, yet he was conscious of that 
freedom of will^ which is the inmost spring of all our 
actions. The old orthodox and dogmatic views, which 
in some respect received their death-blow from the 
hands of Kant, were not simply nonsensical ideas, which 
we must get rid of as soon as possible. There is 
wheat among the tares, and so we must be careful in 
eliminating, lest both be destroyed, the good as well 
as the evil. Let us rather sift the radical as well as 
the dogmatical ideas, and put their arguments to a severe 
test. Only in this way will the discord of that dualism 
be dissolved into the harmony and unison of a monism, 
which may be the basis for a further development of the 
human mind with regard to religious as well as philo- 
sophical ideas. 

The following articles try to realize this ideal, and 
will prove, let us hope, that there is more unity in the 
general plan of human reason than Kant supposed. Our 
monism results in a contemplation of the world by 
which so many seemingly contradictory truths are recon- 




ciled with each other : the ideal on the one side, with 
the real on the other, logical deduction with empirical 
induction, religious faith with philosophic and scientific 
inquiry, the inflexible causality with a higher teleology, 
and the rigid law of necessity with freedom of will and 


§ I. Hume's problem. 

THE hero of the struggle concerning the question of 
causality is David Hume. He is the hero, but not the 
conqueror, of that problem. On the contrary, he was de- 
feated and laid down his arms, unable to carry on the 
strife. His merit, however, remains, for he was the first 
to boldly attack the huge array of philosophic problems 
in the very centre at headquarters ; and he carried the 
brunt of the battle to that point where alone the de- 
cision can be expected. 

Causality is the keystone of all philosophic difficulty, 
and all other problems depend upon the solution of this 
query. God is called the first cause, creation is a pro- 
blem of causation, the basis of science is the law of 
cause and effect, and cognition is tracing an effect back to 
the causes which are supposed to have produced it. 
There is no problem in the empire of the human mind, 
which is not more or less connected with causality. 

In former centuries causality was considered an aeterna 
Veritas, an eternal truth, which needed not to be proved. 
David Hume was the first to enquire into this law and 
to demand its legitimation. However, as he could not 
find any other argument than that found in experience, 
as there was no other test than its constant repetition in 
nature, he considered that it was not susceptible of proof 
and turned sceptic. 

Now this acute Scotch critic, though he wrote in 
language not at all obscure, as philosophers are too 
often prone to do, but in plain strong English, which 


can be understood by almost any one, was unfortunate 
enough to be at first neglected and afterwards to be 
misunderstood by his contemporaries. His first and 
most valuable essay, published in 1738, remained un- 
noticed and unheeded, and not till he had drawn the at- 
tention of his countrymen to himself by some essays on 
history, political economy, etc., did he venture to lay 
before the publi9 anew his neglected philosophy in a 
weakened and crippled edition. Now, at least, he suc- 
ceeded in rousing the opposition of his contemporaries. 
None, however, understood what Hume intended to 
propose, and what was really the end he aimed at. Being 
an adherent of Locke, he rejected innate ideas, and in 
consequence he said that all ideas are produced by the 
impressions of objects, outside of ourselves, or, in other 
words, merely by experience. Consistently with this 
doctrine, he considered the law of cause and effect to 
be empirical. This would exclude its absolute currency 
and render it of mere transitory value, just effective and 
valid for this or that single case ; but we are not at 
all assured that it will be binding in other cases. 
It is a bold assumption to take it for granted and rely 
upon it as on an eternal truth, for it can not be proved 
by argument. 

Hume says on this subject : ** Yet so imperfect are the 
ideas concerning it {viz, causality) that it is impossible to 
give any just definition of cause, except what is drawn 
from something extraneous and foreign to it. Similar 
objects are always conjoined with similar. Of this we 
have experience. Suitably to the experience, therefore, 
we may define a cause to be an object followed by an 
other, and where all the objects similar to the first are 
followed by objects similar to the second. Or in other 
words, where, if the first had not been, the second never 
had existed." I can not dwell long here on the many 


mistakes Hume commits, but let me hint that cause and 
effect are not objects^ but two events, one following the 
other. According to Hume, every carriage of a railroad 
train would be the effect of the one going before, which, 
vice versa, would be the cause of the following one ; for 
they are indisputably similar objects, one followed by an- 

Hume acknowledges the law of identity (a = a), but 
cause and effect are by no means identical ; nay, he says, 
they are entirely different and form a synthesis, i, e., com- 
position of two things ; ergo causality, he concludes, can 
not be proved. All connections which we observe, the 
changes of which we call cause and effect, are so many 
single cases, and it is perhaps quite incidental, if they are 
equal in their repetition. There is, according to Hume, 
no necessary connection in this world and if it really ex- 
isted, there is no feason whatever why we should rely 
upon it so long as we can not demonstrate it. So all 
science, especially natural science, resting on experience, 
lacks a solid basis, after the validity of causality is denied. 
Exactness of investigation is impossible, because it is left 
to chance, and the trustful inquirer into the secrets of 
nature is baffled, since he gropes in the dark, now that 
science has lost the condition on which it stands. 

Hume's adversaries supposed that the philosopher 
denied the existence of causality itself and endeavored 
to demonstrate its operation to him. Their attacks do 
not affect him, as he by no means denied causality but 
merely doubted its foundation. With this, however, the 
universality of the law is lost, and all the affairs of the 
world, instead of being one uninterrupted chain of causes 
and effects are dissolved into unaccountable and innumer- 
able particularities.* The universe in such a case is no 

* Mr. John Stuart Mill takes the same ground. He says in his 
System of Deductive and Inductive Logic, Book III, Chapter IV, § i : 


longer a unity but an agglomeration of single things, here 
and there connected by chance, but not by necessity, 
since the law of causality, that universal tie by which the 
cosmos is bound together, can no longer be accepted as 
aetema Veritas. 

The same punctilious sceptic, however, who refused to 
acknowledge the universal validity of the highest law in 
nature, distinguished between demonstrative and so-called 
rational truths, the latter being the axioms of arith- 
metic and mathematics. Hume accepted them without 
hesitation and did not in the least suspect their certainty. 
At no time did he stop to enquire into their legitimacy 
and origin. And to Kant belongs the merit of having 
pointed out their relation and affinity to causality. Thus 

** In the contemplation of that uniformity in the course of nature, 
which is assumed in every inference from experience, one of the first 
observations that present themselves is, that the uniformity in 
question is not properly uniformity, but uniformities. The general 
regularity results from the co-existence of partial regularities. The 
course of nature in general is constant, because the course of each 
of the various phenomena that compose it, is so." 

In accordance with this, necessity does not exist at all, and Mill, 
indeed, draws this conclusion. He says : " When, therefore, it is 
affirmed, that the conclusions of geometry are necessary truths, the 
necessity consists in reality only in this, that they correctly follow from 
the suppositions from which they are deduced. Those suppositions 
are so far from being necessary, that they are not even true ; they 
purposely depart more or less widely from the truth" (they depart 
from experience, however, not from truth). " The only sense in 
which necessity can be ascribed to the conclusions of any scientific 
investigation, is that of legitimately following from some assumption, 
which by the conditions of the inquiry is not to be questioned." — 
True, logical legitimacy is what ought to be necessary, and in most 
cases will certainly prove to be so. Yet the two terms are, by no 
means, identical ; nor could the idea of necessity be thus eliminated. 
In consistency with the negation of necessity. Mill ought to have de- 
clared himself a sceptic, as Hume, in accordance with the principles 
from which both started, really did. 



he was able to appreciate the importance of Hume's 
scepticism and at the same time to lead the way to a 
solution of the problem. He generalized Hume's ques- 
tion as to causality, and investigated the whole ground 
of so-called rational thought and knowledge. He found 
out that we are indeed in possession of some truths which 
are entirely independent of experience and are even the 
condition of experience. Such truths independent of, and 
antecedent to, experience were called a priori^ and, so far 
as they are the conditions of experience, Kant terms 
the same transcendental ^ (a word carefully to be distin- 
guished from transcendent^ the latter designating a trans- 
mundane existence). Transcendental Kant calls the 
rational or a priori axioms and theorems as passing over 
to the a posteriori^ and forming fundamental rules for our 
experience. These truths, a priori^ are in the first 
instance the mathematical, arithmetical, and logical 
theorems. 2x2 = 4 is an axiom which we know before 
all experience and which, we are sure, is a universal law, 
— a law necessary under any condition and as such uni- 
versal. Necessity and universality are to Kant sure indi- 
cations of the apriority of a truth. As both are appli- 
cable to causality, it is undoubtedly a law a priori; 
and as it is the condition of all experience it is tran- 


In doubting causality Hume ought to have doubted all 
other a priori truths as well. Then, any cognizance 
would have been disputable , any observation illusory, every 
judgment fallacious and science without value. In such a 
case we must not be astonished if spiritists merely smile at 
the most exact deductions and conclusions of our scientific 
men. The apriority of our rational sciences, to be sure, 


IS the condition of knowledge, — that is, to speak in 
Kant's nomenclature, it is transcendental. 

From a particular sensation, according to the law of 
causality, which beforehand or apriorivfe take for granted, 
we conclude that it is the effect of some cause outside of 
ourselves. And in this way causality becomes the organ 
or instrument of cognition. Here more than any where 
else the importance of the doctrine of apriority is shown. 
Mere experience would be for ever condemned to crawl 
on the soil and stick to single and particular facts. 
Ajiriority, by affording necessity and universality, lends 
us the wings of generalization and makes a universal law 
of seemingly incidental and fortuitous cases. 

It should be observed, however, as apriority has been 
so often misinterpreted, that it does not mean at all such 
knowledge as is antecedent in the temporal sense but 
simply prior as the condition of empirical or a posteriori 
cognizance. Adversaries of Kant's transcendental philo- 
sophy fight against wind-mills if they attempt to prove 
that mathematical truths are not innate ideas which we 
may be conscious of from our birth, but that on the con- 
trary, they must be acquired with the same or even greater 
difficulty than empiric knowledge. No one doubts that, 
neither Kant nor any transcendental philosopher. But a 
priori and a posteriori truths are different in regard to 
their origin, the latter being produced from experience by 
our sensation ; the former, however, being rational, grow 
within ourselves, and stand merely on pure reason. We 
acquire them by meditation ; and such truths once stated 
can not be shaken by any experience ; while contrari- 
wise any empiric knowledge may be proved erroneous as 
soon as a new experience demands new explanations of 
former experiences. 2 x 2 «= 4 is true not only on this 
planet of ours, but also on the farthest star in the skies. 
Empirical knowledge can not boast of such universality, 


and wherever it attains it, it is done through rational 
•truths, by generalization on ground oi a priori theorems. 

The distinction between these diametrically different 
kinds of knowledge must be preserved. It must be con- 
fessed, however, that the nomenclature, as used by Kant, 
is not at all adequate. Instead of a priori and a posteriori^ 
we propose to use the terms internal and external. Inter- 
nal knowledge is the rational, growing from pure reason 
within ourselves, and the instrument of all empirical 
knowledge, or what Kant styles a priori and trapscen- 
dental. Herbert Spencer characterizes it as the "incon- 
ceivability of the contrary." It is that knowledge which 
cannot be otherwise, which we take for granted before- 
hand, which we acquire by pure meditation without any 
help from experience, (though experience may illustrate 
and explain it by examples,) and which we believe even 
though experience should seem to contradict it. Ex- 
ternal knowledge is drawn from exterior sources by 
means of sensation. Truths of the first kind are by 
their very nature universal and necessary, those of the 
other are particular, incidental and fortuitous. Sciences 
treating of rational truths are also called formal^ on 
account of their subjects being merely formal. Natural 
sciences inquire into substantial things ; and in regard to 
this fact, Kant correctly states, that experience ** without 
the help of apriority is blind^' but that the purely a priori 
statements are empty ^ viz.: mere formal truths. So they 
generalize, systematize and render clear our experience, 
but are unable to enlarge it. 

Should we meet in our experience with a case contra- 
dictory to a priori truths or apparently annihilating the 
universality of their axioms, especially the validity of the 
causal law, we suppose beforehand that we are mistaken 
in our observations, that there is at the bottom, some 
error, illusion or even deception. We try anything before 


we acquiesce in such a contradiction of^what we consider 
irrefutable ; and such a case is exactly what we call the 

An adherent of Auguste Comte, who denied the doctrine 
of apriority and declared that all truths are gained from 
experience by sensation, or a posteriori^ being asked if he 
would have confidence in a careful observation, though it 
might appear to be in contradiction to mathematical or 
arithmetical truths, for instance, that 2x2 are equal 
to 5, answered in involuntary haste : " That could never 
happen !" This reply, though it slipped from his tongue 
unawares, is a proof that he believed unconsciously in 
the apriority of rational knowledge. For the axiom 
2 X 2 = 4 is distinguished from the most complicated 
theorem a priori^ not essentially, but merely by its 

There is a certain puzzle in which a square, consisting 
of 8x8 smaller squares, is cut and composed anew into a 
rectangle of 5 x 13 or 65 squares of the same size as the 64 
had been. In the first moment the illusion is perfect. 
Clever deception will add a sophism which covers the 
fallacy of the argument. A thinking person, however, 
will declare from the very beginning that there is some 
deception, for he knows a priori that a plane cannot be 
increased by a mere alteration of its form. 

The empirical cognition of experience carries together 
our observations one by one in such a way that all our 
knowledge must for ever remain fragmentary piecework. 
And it is natural that such should be external cognizance. 
Internal cognizance contrariwise comprehends its truths 
in their unity ; therefore the laws a priori are always 
complete, and what is proved mathematically will ever 
be beyond doubt. 



Now causality is no doubt an internal truth, and may 
be proved as well as any mathematical theorem. Let 
me mention, however, that rightly considered, mathe- 
matical truths are not proved. All arguments of this 
science are reductions from the complicated to the 
simpler and thence to the self-evident. The latter, how- 
ever, is never proved, but accepted on credit under the 
name of axiom, t It may now be shown that, in spite 
of Hume, causality, like any a priori theorem, may be 
traced to the most simple axiom, and that is the axioni 
of identity. 

Cause is an event in some state of things, which ne- 
cessarily leads to a change. If you take from a heap 
of stones one of the undermost, all those resting upon 
It will rush after and in some way alter their position. 
There is no other alteration than that which is caused by 
motion. Everything, save the arrangement, remains the 
same after as before the change. But there was an 
occurrence which disturbed the equilibrium of the whole 
state of things ; and to restore it, a motion of the 
disturbed parts became necessary. The disturbance of 
the equilibrium is the cause, its restoration the effect. 
A spark thrown into powder results in an explosion. 
The spark is not the cause, but its being thrown into 
the powder, its approach to the inflammable material. 
The effect is the change in the composition of the powder. 
Nor, in the first instance, is the stone the cause, but its 
removal, /. ^., the act of its being taken away. Causes as 
well as effects are always some events, occurrences, 
incidents, which happen. They are never things or ob- 
jects, which exist. And so the term means an altera- 
tion in some state of circumstances, a change of situa- 
tion, position, posture, or a replacement and new ar- 


rangement of some conjuncture. In one word, causality 
is a law of motion. One alteration in some state of 
things produces another ; thus efiect is a change in con- 
sequence of another prior change. Matter, however, as 
we know from the law of preservation of force and mat- 
ter, remains unaltered and unchanged. After the explo- 
sion all the single atoms of the powder are still in exist- 
ence, though in an entirely different composition. But, 
apart from this difference of the combination of atoms, 
matter is the same before and after the explosion. It 
remains identical in the change, and we may call caus- 
ality the identity in change. 

In every case the transformation worked by causality 
is an alteration effected by movement. The single atoms 
of matter remain unchanged, but they have often under- 
gone a metastasis in their combination. For instance, if 
water boils, it evaporates, and seems to disappear ; but 
no ! The gaseous hydrogen, though invisible to our eyes, 
hovers in the air. Not a drop is lost after the transfor- 
mation into the gaseous state of aggregation. We know 
it a priori ; and all this is confirmed and corroborated 
by experience. But if we did not know it from internal 
meditation, how could we state such a law so assuredly 
and emphatically as being universal and without any 
exception ? It is merely because we comprehend the 
truths of internal cognition in their totality and com- 
pleteness. True, experience endorses it in single in- 
stances. But that is merely the countersign, to sup- 
port, to second and uphold it. The warrant is given by 
pure reason independent of experience, which explains it 
by examples, thus testifying to and ratifying a law, which 
can not be otherwise and is self-evident exactly as 




The mark of difference, which distinguishes the erudite 
from the illiterate man, is the acknowledgment of the 
apriority, and, so far as the lack of this influences the 
latter, we call him superstitious. Let causality be merely 
empirical, let it be a law, not as we have derived it like 
a law of pure mathematics, logic, or mechanics by deduc- 
tion, but by fnduction, and we could never be sure of its 
necessity or universality, and any superstition would be 
admissible with the same legitimacy as science. We 
would not be entitled to refuse any pretended experience, 
not even of the most absurd events. If, as Hume thinks, 
and as John Stuart Mill states, cause and effect are a mere 
following, not an ensuing, then, indeed, the theory of the 
excellence of wine, grown in comet years, would be 
proved as scientifically as anything could be, for experience 
is in favor of it. But it is such an experience as proves 
nothing, because we observe a succession, not a connec- 
tion,* and not a whit of causal concatenation. Reid is 
quite right in saying (though John Stuart Mill tries to 
escape the consequence in longwinded explanations) that, 
according to the principle of the positivist school, night 
would be the effect of day, as we observe their constant 
succession. * 

If science could not penetrate deeper into the connec- 
tion of phenomena than by stating their succession, there 
would not properly exist any such science as that which 
has for its object the enquiry into causal connection and 
the establishment of laws, in conformity with which single 
events must occur thus and not otherwise. And if we were 
not sure of causality beforehand by merely internal insight, 
if it were not a priori^ we should not be astonished at 
finding cases in which causality does not work, where its 


operation is suspended, or where there rules an other 
arrangement: for instance, such a kind of preter- or super- 
natural causality, as is supposed to exist in astrology and 
alchemy. Therefore, the necromancer and thaumaturgist 
quote and appeal to Sh?ikespeare's dictum : 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, 
Than are dreamed of in our philosophy. 

Certainly there are many things which we have not 
explored as yet and, moreover, there are some that by 
their very nature are unsearchable, but there are none in 
contradiction with reason. Whenever there appears to be 
such a contradiction, there is some delusion either arising 
from our error or from the fraud and deceit of others. 

When a person really commences to doubt whether 
causality be not suspended in a certain case, even in in- 
cifferent matters, he is overcome unawares and- becomes 
possessed, as it were, with a certain demoniac uneasiness. 
The more highly organized animals do the same ; horses 
tremble, and dogs whine if events happen, (for instance, 
eclipses of the sun,) which they can not account for. The 
superstitious take them as marvels and prodigies worked 
by some supernatural power. The erudite man alone is 
not overawed in such cases. He thinks and ruminates, 
nor is he satisfied until he has found the causal connec- 
tion which in the most unaccountable facts he supposes 
ever to exist. 

So we have arrived at a fair explanation of causality ; 
it is a law of motion. Cause is no object but some alter- 
ation in a state of things by which another alteration is 
effected. Nor is effect an object ; it is simply the new 
state of things as produced by the cause. So neither can 
the watchmaker be called a cause nor the watch an effect. 
His work is rather the cause and the proper composition 
of wheels, dial and hands the effect. 


Causality changes ; it may combine or dissolve, yet it 
never creates or destroys matter, the atoms and forces of 
which remain the same throughout the infinite concate- 
nation of causes and effects. 


Before we venture on the iriore intricate difficulties of 
causality, we must dwell for a space on a seeming subtlety, 
which is, however, of great consequence. For there re- 
mains to be explained the relation of the internal truths 
to the external world. This relation being the bridge 
between the subject and the object, between thinking 
and existing, between the mind and the universe, is the 
basis, whereon our conception of the world rests. The in- 
ternal truths are held to be valid a priori^ because they are 
necessary and universal. Now, passing the bridge from 
the subjective a priori side of the interior of our soul to 
the exterior environment in the world abroad, we find 
there those same truths corroborated a posteriori; for 
the highest universal laws of experience are exactly the 
same as those of pure reason. And the planets wander 
on their ways through the heavens in such ellipses as we 
may construct in pure mathematics. Causality in the 
same way is valid as far as ever our experience extends 
and never have any theorems of arithmetic and mathe- 
matics been proved by experience to be erroneous. Thus 
by experience we become acquainted a second time and a 
posteriori with the rational truths, which we learned a pri- 
ori. And while sensation introduces us into the material 
contents of the world, these general laws afford an insight 
into the mere form of the world, viz., time and space. 

Now there arises this question : these formal laws in 
nature around us being identical with those internal laws 
within us, where lies their source, and on which side are 


they original, and on which have they been borrowed ? 
And if they are borrowed on either, how arises this won- 
drous harmony ? 

Kant, in his Prolegomena § 36, faces this difficulty 
and puts the question as follows : " How is nature itself 
possible?" And he ratiocinates: "The highest laws of 
nature {viz.^ in the exterior of the world outside of and 
around us) are found independent of all experience 
within ourselves a priori'' Astonished at this congru- 
ency, he asks : " How arises this congruency ?" And he 
imagines that there are only two possibilities. " Either," 
he says, " we borrow the rational truths from nature, that 
means, we receive them by experience, — or they are 
transferred from us to nature." The first solution is that 
of Locke ; after him David Hume and the positivists of 
the present day have taken the same ground. Such a 
solution, however, is impossible, as Kant has irrefutably 
proved the apriority of time and space. As they are 
independent of any experience they can not be borrowed 
from the exterior world. Therefore Kant says : ** There 
is left but the other solution, which is the reverse of 
Locke's : * Our reason dictates its laws to nature,* u e.y 
our reason is instituted or organized in such a way that it 
can not perceive the world otherwise than in the shape of 
time and space, and connected by causality as well as by 
the apparatus of apriority. Whether the world is so or 
no we know not ; it appears to us so, and we can not help 
seeing the world in the frame of time, space, and causal- 
ity. But it is our mind that frames it thus ; the frame 
does not belong to the picture, though we are not able to 
take it out and handle it as it really is." 

This is what Kant calls his idealism. The ratiocination, 
however, on which it rests, contains a fallacy which led 
him astray. He erroneously held a priori identical with 
subjective, i,e,^ belonging to and inherent in the ego; 


and all truths a priori vf^rt in this way supposed to be sub- 
jective. Now they are so indeed, in some respects, inas- 
much as they grow internally within the ego. And expe- 
riencing their objectivity in the world outside of us, Kant 
argues that there must needs be a loan, given by our ego 
to the world. Locke's solution is certainly wrong, as the 
apriority of time and space is undeniable. So Kant sees 
no other way than that which constitutes his idealism, 
according to which time and space and the whole world 
as we perceive it are not real but ideal, our mind dictating 
the fundamental laws. 


But is there no other possible way out of the difficulty.^ 
There is a third way to a solution ; it is midway between 
Locke and Kant, overlooked by Kant, and the only 
remaining way. Let us try it and hope that it will lead 
to a more satisfactory result. 

First let us ask, what is the subject in the objective 
world "i What are we ourselves in regard to our sur- 
roundings } If we were standing outside of ourselves, 
inquiring into what we call our subject, our egOy the 
centre of our cognition, we should find it to be an ob- 
ject like all other objects beside it. 

How now, with regard to our problem } Are not the 
internal truths inherent and a priori to all subjects 
which swarm around us as objects ; and should we not 
suppose, therefore, that they belong rather to our ob- 
jective existence } Every ego in this world (as it must 
needs have — or rather must be — an objective existence) 
finds the internal truths in this objective existence, i. e.y 
within itself, in such a way as to be able to construct them 
a priori. In consequence of this, everything existing 
exists materially and must, of necessity, partake of the 


form of the world, viz,j time and space. Thus the 
formal laws of nature are valid in the same. As it is 
extended, it partakes of space ; it moves, and a state 
antecedent and consequent gives the difference of time ; 
it changes according to, and is conditioned by, causality. 
And such being the laws of objective existence, they ad- 
here to any object permeating its entire essence so that any 
object, if developed to the state of consciousness, will find 
these laws by mere reflection and meditation, as they are 
part of ourselves, viz,y the formal part of our existence. 

This answer to the problem of apriority is very 
simple. It also affords information concerning the origin 
of these internal truths, a query which Kant nowhere 
proposed, and never answered. And moreover, it justifies 
our assumption of internal truths as granted. Their 
universality and necessity rest de facto on the idea that 
the form of nature (pure space) is everywhere the same ; 
every thing that exists partakes of it, and is subject to, 
and conditioned by, its laws. Thus we know that the 
laws of pure space, as we recognize them within us, are 
the same in our existence as anywhere else. For space 
is space anywhere and everywhere; it is the mere form of 
material existence. 

This solution of Hume's problem will be recognized by- 
and-by as the only possible and true one. It affords a 
basis for science which Hume despaired of finding and 
which neither Locke, Auguste Comte and John Stuart 
Mill on the one side, nor Kant and the transcendental 
philosophers on the other, can give. It fills the gap be- 
tween subject and object, between spirit and matter ; it 
reconciles idealism and realism, explains the connection of 
the a priori with the a posteriori^ thus restoring harmony 
in the universe between the ego and the cosmos, and 
scientifically establishes a conception of the world which 
we comprise under the name of Monism. 



Causality is the law of cause and effect, and nothing 
else. There is, however, such a confusion about the idea 
of cause, that we must be particularly careful ; and in no 
language is the misuse and inadequacy of words greater 
than in English. Cause as well as effect is an event, or 
fact ; the cause is past, if the effect has ensued. Both 
are temporal, as they designate merely a state of affairs. 
So, as was stated above, cause is never a thing ; much 
less can a person be called a cause. I may cause some 
effect by some action, I may produce some result by my 
labor, aind my person may be Accessory to some event, 
even through its mere presence, but I myself am never a 

The mistake is magnified, if God is called the Jirst cause. 
First causes are of mere relative existence. They are the 
starting points of a series of some longer chain of causes 
and effects. According to La Place, the cause of the ro- 
tation in that gaseous nebula, from which our planets have 
been developed, was the unequal partition of matter. So 
it was the first cause in the formation of the solar system, 
which happened so many millions of years ago. It has 
passed as any cause passes that is merely some temporal 

We reject and condemn, therefore, the idea of a first 
cause in the sense of Creator, as a contradiction in itself. 
And those who call God the first cause have either a 
vague idea of what they mean, or they intend to say that 
God is the final principle of the world, the most general 


laWy governing the whole universe, the fundamental basis, 
and, so to speak, the ground on which everything rests, 
from which all existences spring and originate, and the 
ultimate reason to which we trace the existence of the 
cosmos. Such a principle, or whatever other name you 
may be pleased to give it, is not a passing cause, which 
happens once and exists no longer, but a living presence, 
which pervades the whole world, and is the operating 
force in all causes and the causation in causality. 

After what we have stated here, thesis as well as anti- 
thesis in Kant's fourth antinomy about an absolutely 
necessary Being are right, though for the sake of clear- 
ness we must express this opposition in other words. 
The thesis declares : there is an absolutely necessary final 
principle of this world ; though, according to the anti- 
thesis, there does not exist a first cause, 


It is this final principle which constitutes the philo- 
sophical idea of a God to the theist, which gives to the 
philosopher the basis of what is called metaphysics, and 
which an atheist like Herbert Spencer calls the "un- 
knowable." It is the enigma of the world which by its 
very nature can not be comprehended. 

It may be hinted here that, with the exception of Kant, 
philosophers have hitherto been accustomed to speak 
dogmatically about the metaphysical province of thought. 
So Herbert Spencer begins his philosophy with the state- 
ment of the unknowable, without even trying to justify 
its supposition. The positivists simply ignore it, a method 
easier even than that of Spencer, though one which by 
no means relieves us of the difficulty. 

Before we venture on metaphysics, let us know what 
physics is, and before we make statements about the 


unknowable^ let us define what is knowable; especially let 
us have a clear conception as to what is the process, by 
which that cognizance is attained. If that is understood, 
I trust, that from the nature of cognition itself we may 
find the limit at which our knowledge comes to a stand 
and where the province of the unknowable commences. 


Cognition means the tracing of causality or the search 
for that law, according to which matter moves in space. 
Matter, space and movement we call therefore the prin- 
ciples of cognition, (i) Space is the source of our internal, 
(2) matter of our external knowledge, and (3) in motion 
we have a combination of both. By means of these three 
principles we are able to comprehend anything in the 
world — ^yes, anything, except the world itself, and so 
really nothing. The eye may see anything except itself; 
it sees all objects around it, but it cannot see its own 

These principles of cognition, simple and plain as they 
seem at first sight, are by their very nature incompre- 
hensible. I. Space, which we recognize intuitively and 
grasp internally, the laws of which are self-evident and 
a priori, which we fancy we understand so thoroughly, 
simply by being in the interior of it, and comprising all 
its regularity in most accurately formulated mathematical 
theorems — this same space is entirely incomprehensible 
in its totality. We call it infinite, a negative term, which 
merely signifies our inability to grasp it in its unity. 

2. Our cognition of matter moves in an exactly con- 
trary direction. We know matter from its outside ; we 
observe how it acts, but are not admitted to its interior. 
What matter really is, we shall never know, though we 
may analyze it and comprehend all its properties. To 


external knowledge it seems so intelligible, lucid and 
natural ; its existence is simply a fact. Yet we are not 
able to grasp its inwardness, and Faust's desire : 

That I may detect the inmost force 
Which binds the world and guides its course, 
Its germs, productive powers, explore 
And rummage in empty words no more — 

can. never be fulfilled. 

3. Movement is a fact, but we cannot account for it. 
The whole universe is in constant motion. In each in- 
dividual case we recognize a cause, which, being itself 
motion, produces another motion. We do our best to 
explain each single case by establishing some natural 
law ; and this law, together with other and kindred laws, 
will find its reason in some higher or more general law, 
and so on up to the highest universal reason, which should 
comprise and account for all others. But this universal 
law operating in all individual cases, the final causation 
in causality, the last principle, the ground and reason of 
movement, is withdrawn from our comprehension, for it 
would be absurd to look for a more general reason of the 
last and universal reason. Here we arrive at the natural 
limit of our reasoning power. And so we are kept out- 
side and not admitted into the Holy of Holies. The 
sanctum sanctissimum of cognition is locked for ever. 


Thus all objects in the world are comprehensible by 
the principles of cognition, viz.^ by space, matter, move- 
ment ; as cognizance is nothing else than tracing how 
matter moves in space. Yet these principles of cognition 
themselves are incomprehensible, and so the enigma of 
the world is threefold : The problem of space is its in- 
finitudey that of matter its eternity, that of movement the 
ground or last causation of movement. 



The confusion which generally prevailed and still pre- 
vails, has produced another odd idea expressed by a word 
even more odd than first cause, viz.: causa finalis ox final 
causey in opposition to causa efficiens^ or efficient causey 
the latter meaning the usual causes as they operate ac- 
cording to the inexorable law of necessity, and the former 
meaning some other kind of cause, arranged by some 
conscious being for effecting some certain result, some 
finis or end, which we commonly call purpose. Purpose 
is the intended effect. 

The ttrm final cause has been invented on the supposi- 
tion, that there exist two kinds of causality, the one reg- 
ulated by chance, the other by some conscious will. 
On this field, the two parties, the dogmatists on the one 
hand, and the radicals on the other, clash with each other 
in fierce conflict. Here the struggle has been even more 
intense than anywhere else, (though Kant did not receive 
it into his antinomies,) for here the nerve of the questions 
lies. The dogmatist says : " There is some transmundane 
power that has arranged the world to accomplish some ends 
or purposes^' (the Greek word is riXo^y from which such a 
contemplation of the world is called teleology) ^^ otherwise y^ 
they argue, ^^the universe would be a chaos y but no cosmos. ^^ 
The radicals, however, assert, that there is no such thing 
as a transmundane existence y nor an arrangement like final 

This time, however, the combatants arrange them- 
selves somewhat differently. Kant unquestionably joins 
the negative, and Schopenhauer is found siding with the 
theologians ; though he does not believe in a God, his 
transcendent Will is, according to his theory, the Creator 
of the world, not much different from a God. 



We must be brief and therefore state beforehand that 
we can not accept two essentially different kinds of causal- 
ity and that the expression final cause leads to confused 
and erroneous views. It is, at best, a very unfortunate 
expression. But here, as often happens, a grain of truth 
is in the chaff, and in some degree both parties are right. 
The ^oxA final cause y to be sure, must be blotted out, and I 
propose to use in its stead simply ^wi"^ — answering to the 
Greek riXos, and designating what Germans call Zweck 
and Ziel. 

The idea of a finis is indispensable in the explanation 
of causality ; and, as it is of practical import, we can not 
omit it in our investigation. Causality, as we have 
learned; is a law of movement. If there occurs any cause, 
some motion ensues. For instance : the storm tears a 
tile from a roof and carries it in the direction of the blast. 
In this case, the finis or, so to say, intended end of such 
a cause, lies in the direction which the hurricane takes. 
The tile, however, as soon as it has lost its place on the 
roof, has a tendency to fall straight to the ground accord- 
ing to the law of gravitation. Its finis or intended end 
would be towards the centre of the earth. Neither of 
these two fineSy however, is carried into effect, for the 
stone will take the way of some parabola or hyperbola, 
resulting from the two directions of these different fines. 

Every line of motion has its whence and its whither. 
The whence is the cause^ the whither the finis. Some- 
times, though certainly very seldom, the point of motion 
moves exactly in the straight line in which its finis lies. 
In such a case the finis will be identical with the real 
effect. There is but one uninfluenced, unchanged direc- 
tion. The cause (C) drawn from the starting point to the 
finis (F) meets in a straight line, the actual result or effect 


(E). But in a circular motion, C is a point on the cirum- 
ference, F lies in the direction of the tangents, and E in 
the curve of the circle. The motion of the earth has its 
finis constantly in the tangent of its elliptic path. But 
as it gravitates toward the sun, this tendency is never 
carried into effect ; and the actual result is the diagonal 
between the two forces^ justly called the resultant^ forming 
in this case the curve of an ellipse. 

And in the same way man's actions have a certain aim 
and purpose, which need not necessarily be identical 
with the result of his actions. But considering their 
ethical appreciation, we take care to judge not according 
to the result, but with reference to this finis^ purpose or 
aim, which man tends toward or aspires to. For in 
reality this and nothing else shows his character, as it ac- 
counts for the motives by which he allows himself to be 
influenced, and thus the actions of man not as they are, 
but as they are intended to be, reveal his inmost nature. 

All actions of a man, different as they may be, will be of 
a certain type, congenial to his character, because his 
character is the ground from which all his motives start. 
And this remaining to a certain extent the same through- 
out his life, all he does, says and intends, will be in 
unfailing harmony. His virtues and his vices will bear 
some resemblance and correspond ; and moreover, they 
will show their common origin. 

In the same way matter under certain circumstances 
will show certain qualities. So sulphur shines in the dark, 
it is inflammable, it melts in a heat of so many degrees, 
such and such is its specific weight, etc., etc.; and all these 
properties form single characteristics of this element, 
which in its unity we call sulphur. But in order to find 
out its nature, we must put it to different tests, called 
experiments, and by such experiments we find out how 
it operates under different circumstances. 


The character of man and the properties of elements 
are inqmred into in such a way, according to the law of 
causation, and whosoever would get at the truth, at what 
the last principles of the universe may be, must look for 
the ends and aims to which its development tends. And 
it is only ^\^ finis in the arrangement of the world that 
can give us some light upon the last principle of the 


There is no denying that there is such z. finis in the uni- 
verse as we have described, though it does not by any 
means prove to be the teleology of the dogmatist. We 
think that Dr. McCosh in his " Energy, Efficient and Final 
Cause" is entirely mistaken where he says on page 43: ** In 
the cereals there is . . . a final cause in the food provided 
for the nourishment of man and living creatures." The 
finis in the growth of plants, no doubt, is to produce seed 
of their own kind for the perpetuation and propagation of 
their species. That such seed in most instances serves 
the purposes of man as food, is of great consequence to 
man, but quite accidental, and has nothing to do with the 
finis of the growth of plants. 

We find a finis wherever we observe causation. Every- 
where in the world therefore we meet with some develop- 
ment ; it is found in history as well as in natural science. 
Hegel pointed it out for the first time, and though his theory 
was exaggerated by himself and his disciples in such a 
way that the historians of his school rather constructed 
history than inquired into it, yet the merit due to him 
cannot be denied. The history of mankind is not, as 
Schopenhauer says, a vague dream of humanity, but a 
well-developed evolution of the human idea. The same 
work in the more exact inquiries of natural sciences, based 


on experiments and observations, has been done by Dar- 
win ; and Herbert Spencer's philosophy may justly be 
called the philosophy of evolution. The systematic appli- 
cation and generalization of this idea is his chief merit 
and most worthy claim to originality of thought. 



It is undoubtedly a fact that the development of the 
world tends toward a higher plan^and a better arrange- 
ment. Matter Itself in its elements we know from the law 
of conservation of force and matter remains the same un- 
changed ; we suppose them to be unalterable, and they 
are to-day as they have been millions and millions of 
years ago — ^yea from eternity. But the composition of 
matter is changeable ; the arrangment in which the ele- 
ments are combined, may be more or less favorable. And 
this arrangement undergoes a constant alteration accord- 
ing to the law of causality. And there is a tendency of 
advancement observable toward one and the same point : 
and this aim is the amelioration of the present state. 
Such an improvement is only possible by an unceasing 
struggle, by heroic work, not in the service of egotism, 
but in that of a higher unity, not by indulging in the 
happiness of the present, but by severe labor, done in and 
with the hope of a better future, — in one word, it is 
merely possible by sacrifice. So the single individual has 
to sacrifice his youth's best years for the comfort of his 
age, and in like manner humanity sacrifices the labor and 
lives of its individuals for a better future. Thus on the 
way of perpetual sacrifice the human race throngs onward 
to a higher and better existence and so does the whole 

And if similar races, as humanity on earth, live on 


other planets, we may be fully convinced that there is 
also an evolution to constantly higher standpoints, for 
that is ^^ finis whither the cosmical development tends. 
However, the way by which it advances and the means 
through which it attains this end is the principle of 
morality. It is a fact that single units serve as parts in a 
higher unity ; like organs which operate in an organism, 
they work, they suffer, they sacrifice themselves for the 
good of the whole of which they form limbs. And the 
act of serving this higher interest, even with neglect of 
personal desires, is what we call morality. 


Only by knowing the finis y the whither of the develop- 
ment of the world, can we find out the nature and 
character of the final principle of the cosmos, which re- 
presents the whence of all movement in the universe, the 
ultimate ground and source from which all activity starts. 
Now, if the tendency of amelioration prevails every- 
where, we should apply this law to the final principle, 
which pervades the macrocosm. So the aspiration to- 
wards ever higher aims on the high road of infinitude and 
eternity seems to be the inmost, the sublimest and grandest 
characteristic of this final interior of nature, the ground- 
work of the world. And if this solar system in which we 
live falls to pieces, after its due time, there are other 
suns with their planets which will have developed mean- 
while, in which, no doubt, the same principle is as active 
as it is in this world of ours. 

As we have seen on earth organisms rising into exist- 
ence, developing, striving, to make straight the path to 
some higher state and then dying away in order to make 
room for organisms of higher rank, may there not be a 


chance also for a similar evolution from less developed 
worlds to more highly organized solar systems, in a way 
of which we have not, and can not have, any experience ? 
But such an idea, we must confess, belongs to the empire 
of dreamland, and so we merely hint at it, as we are not 
inclined here to indulge in suppositions and possibilities. 

However this may be, sursum is at any rate the watch- 
word of all evolution and the finis everywhere percept- 
ible. The means by which it is attained is morality; the 
source from which it starts is the wonderful spring that 
marvelously and mysteriously sets in motion the whole 

So we have learned th.zX first cause and final cause are 
confusions ; yet gleaning the truth from these ideas, we 
state that there is som^ finis in the wdrld, which teaches 
us what we may know concerning the nature and ultimate 
principle of the universe, as the finis reveals the aim and 
tendency in the cosmos. The way, however, by which 
its end and, so to speak, its purpose is, and can only be 
accomplished, is that of morality, as must be stated in 
the science of ethics. 




THREE things are to be carefully distinguished in the 
idea of causality, i. If a man acts, the motive that 
stirs him is the cause (o5«v 7 oipxH ^7^ Kivr}(S^Goi) ; 2. the 
law according to which he acts is his character (7 ovdioi)^ 
as the decision of his will depends on the quality of him- 
self, viz,y his nature; and 3. the end pursued in his action 
is his purpose or finis {to ov evBua or riXoi), The man 
himself is what Aristotle calls 7 tAi; or ro VTtoxsi/ievov 
(i. e. literally : matter or subject) ; we should say the object 
of our observatiotty in which the change is noticed. And 
in the same way every phenomenon has i. its cause and 
2. obeys some general law, which explains the ground or 
reason of its occurrence, and 3. a finis y which may become 
eventually identical with its effect. 

If some one asks, why powder explodes, he does not 
want to know the cause of a single case, for instance 
that of a recently discharged gun, but the reason of any 
powder explosion. The cause or occasion was some fact, 
some motion or alteration of circumstances, say the 
approach of a linstock to the touchhole. The reason, 
however, of this and of any explosion, is not a single fact 
or event, not an incident like the cause, — the reason of it 
is a general laWy establishing some truth about the pro- 
perties of the powder. And this truth must be carefully 
distinguished from cause. To call it a general cause, as 
Hume does, leads to a confusion just as bad as that of 
the ideas of first cause and final causa. This truth is not 
a concrete fact of some certain case of real and material 


existence, but it contains a concept which in its abstract- 
ness applies to any case of its kind. It is not a phenom- 
enon but a law. 

Such a reason (in Latin, called ratioy in German, Grund) 
explains why in any case powder explodes. In the action 
of man, the cause applies merely to one transient act ; the 
reason, however, explains, why the cause took effect 
according to his character in this instance as well as in 
any similar condition. 

The v7roK€tpievov or object of observation, is, and 
always must be, under a certain conditiony to explain 
which is sometimes of the greatest import, as the con- 
dition is usually accessory to the fact that the cause takes 
effect. Condition embraces the state of the object as well 
as the circumstances that surround it. 

Every cause is the effect of some prior cause, and so ad 
infinitum^ and every reason may be explained by some 
higher, i, ^., more general reason. Though the cause is 
antecedent to its effect, the reason is coexistent with the 
inference that follows from it. 

The finis or whither in the motion of causation an- 
swers to the whence J i.e.^ the reason or general law 
according to which some effect is produced. I observe 
whither the vane points to know whence the wind blows; 
and when all things fall to the ground toward the 
centre of the earth, the finis or whither of their mo- 
tion corresponds to the general law of gfravitation. In 
this way the attraction of things toward the earth is ex- 

The finis consciously aspired to is called purpose. 
Thus purpose exists only on the condition of a rational 
will, and a man's purposes are inferences from his char- 
acter, which represents the reason or general law. that 
accounts for his aims. The finis or end may not be 
directly approachable. In such a case the motion of caus- 


ality must pass through a medium, which in the activity 
of man we call the means that serve his purpose. 

In every instance we can point out i. the cause or the 
alteration of a state of things which under certain con^ 
ditions calls forth a change, thus producing the effect; 
2. the reason or ground^ the question, why does it happen f 
The answer is a general law that holds good in all kindred 
cases ; and 3. the direction of the motion, its aim and 
end^ or as we style it, its finis. The finis of a conscious 
will is called purpose. 



Temptation allied to the hope that the crime will not 
be discovered may perhaps cause a man to become a thief. 
At any rate, some event or incident must happen to induce 
a man to act in this way. And such an occurrence is the 
cause. The reason, however, for the committal of such a 
crime may be avarice, egotism, love for a starving family, 
or some other quality, which is, under certain circum- 
stances, the begetter of thievishness. 

Dr. James McCosh, in his essay on Energy, Efficient 
and Final Cause, page 4, says : *' A picture-frame falls 
from a wall and breaks a jar standing on a table below ; 
we say that the frame, or rather the fall of the frame, was 
the cause of the fracture of the jar. But the true cause, 
that which forever will produce the same effect, is the 
frame falling with a certain momentum and the brittle- 
ness of the jar." In this instance "the fall of the frame 
with a certain momentum" is the cause, and what Dr. 
McCosh calls "true cause," is no cause but the reason, 
establishing some truth about the properties of the jar 
and the frame, viz., the brittleness of the jar and the 
weight of the frame, through which the effect is produced 


in this and in any other case. There is no purpose in the 
breakage, yet there is some finis in the falling of the 
frame, and the jar happens to stand in its direction. 

And further on Dr. McCosh uses another example ; he 
says on page 7 : "I was prompted to write a letter to a 
friend by my affection ; but the occasion was his suffering 
a severe loss ; the two actually called forth the letter." 
In this instance, the intelligence of my friend's severe 
loss is the cause that prompts me ; but my affection 
(Dr. McCosh calls it ** a cause steadily operating ") is the 
reason why I feel prompted to write ; and this produces, 
according to the law of friendship, the desire of comfort- 
ing and, if possible, helping my friend in his emergency. 
The comfort and help of my friend is the aim and finis 
of my action, or as we usually ^ay, it is the purpose of my 
writing the letter. 

There is an old scholastic dictum, ^^cessante causa 
cessat effectus ; if the cause ceases to exist, the effect 
does not exist any more." This is wrong, for the cause 
is passed whenever the effect is produced. If the murderer 
pulls the trigger of his gun, the shot goes off and his 
victim is struck. The first cause has passed, when the 
effect is produced. And this again is passed, when it 
inflicts the fatal wound. The cause passes away with its 
effect; the reason, however, remains in and with its infer- 
ence. The inference disappears if the reason is abolished 
or counteracted. 

The Romans kept their slaves in severe bondage. Their 
egotism was the reason of their severity. When Christi- 
anity conquered the world, more humane ideas spread, 
restraining as much as possible the barbarity of pagan- 
ism. As the reason or ground of keeping slaves was thus 
checked, its inference ceased to exist, and in consequence 
of this, slavery became by and by impossible ; it was 


Emden was once a flourishing Hansa-city^ because its 
situation on the banks of the Ems was exceedingly favor- 
able. But its trade and commerce went almost to decay 
since the river altered its course. We ask, why ? The 
answer is, cess ante ratione consequens cessat. 

This same law holds good if one reason is counteracted 
by another. For instance, powder is inflammable and 
explosive. Dampness counteracts its inflammability; let 
it be wet, and it will, in such a case, never be explosive. 


The faculty of mind, by which we perceive the causality 
of phenomena, is called understanding. It is that faculty 
which teaches us the use of our senses. For instance, we 
see some object : the beams of light which shine on the 
object are reflected and enter into our eye. So the effect 
of the presence of that object is its little picture on the 
retina of the eye. From this effect we infer the presence 
of the object before us, supposing it to be the cause of 
that picture. In this way it is not so much the eye that 
sees as the understandings the eye being merely its 
organ or instrument of seeing. Without the power of 
understanding the eye is unable to see. A man may 
open his eyes wide in a swoon, yet he does not see ; the 
pictures appear on the retina with the same accuracy as 
usual, but his understanding is paralyzed and does not 
translate these miniatures into real perception. 

Understanding is a faculty which man shares with 

The faculty of mind which enables us to perceive the 
ground or reason, why causes operate thus and not other- 
wise, is called reason. Reason is among all creatures on 
earth the sole property of man. Reason not only affords 
knowledge of general and universal truths, but it is also 


the capacity for abstraction, and so it creates concepts or 
general ideas. In consequence of this, reason produces 
language, and if fully developed, science y viz,: a method- 
ically arranged system of knowledge. 

The reason of some fact affords the explanation of the 
same in the form of a law. Such a law, though explain- 
ing all instances in which it is applicable, is simply the 
statement of some general truth and it in turn is suscept- 
ible of an explanation by some higher truth, by some 
more general law. To accomplish this task is the duty 
of science as it classifies and systematizes all laws, ex- 
plaining the particular ones from the general and these 
from more general, in the hope of finding at length the 
most general or universal law, comprising and explaining 
all others. And this universal law is what we call the 
final principle of the world. 

The chief characteristic of reason is its tendency to- 
ward establishing a unity wherever it is possible. And 
so it points by its very nature to a conception of a uni- 
versal unity or to monism. 

The faculty of mind which affords an insight into the 
finisy whither the cause tends, is generally and most 
properly called judgment. In a similar way we form a 
judgment, when we conclude in a logical syllogism, draw 
an inference and form an estimate ; also when we make 
up our mind, we determine to act in a certain way on 
account of a judgment with regard to the probable end 
or finis of our action. 

And so our intellect, in agreement with i. cause, 
2. ground (reason), and 3. finis in causality, consists of 
I. understanding, 2. reason, and 3. judgment. 




Thus monism establishes a unique and universal prin- 
ciple of the world permeating the whole cosmos. The 
world is an evolutioa of that one final principle and the 
single phenomena are so many single oscillations or un- 
dulations of the general motion of that grand stream 
pushing on from the eternity of the past to the eternity 
of the future. 

Monism means, i. a unity of source to which it traces 
the origin and explanation of all things and phenomena 
both spiritual and material, 2. a unity of principle animat- 
ing the whole world, arranging the order of motion or the 
mechanics of causality, and 3. a unity ol\\s finis. There 
is everywhere the same goal, whither the development of 
evolution tends. 

Things are not single existences, but form one entire 
whole, which in its totality we call, with reference to 
point first, the universe ; to point second, the cosmos^ and 
to point third, the world. The first Latin word {universe) 
regards the material unity of things, the second, of Greek 
origin {cosmos), represents their unity of organization, 
the harmony of which is the regularity of space, and the 
third, (our old Anglo-Saxon term world, old German 
werlde, connected with modern German werden, to grow, 
to become) signifies the unity of growth in all objects, 
i.e., the unity of all tendencies seemingly so different yet 
striving for and aspiring towards the same finis. It is 
the unity of motion. 


As soon as the religious ideas of man are imbued with 
philosophical speculations, the conception of a deity is 
developed in natural course ; it may be in form of Mono- 


theism or Pantheism. Certainly either view represents 
a religious ideal of monism. In Judaea it was Monotheism, 
and so it was in Arabia; in India we meet with Pantheism, 
and in Greece it is rather doubtful, whether the divine 
mind {yov%) of Anaxagoras and the God i^^^oi) of Plato, 
were monotheistic or pantheistic conceptions of the deity. 

However, the unity of monism is not that of number, 
but of entirety ; and in accordance with the treble enigma 
of the world, God is conceived as a trinity. Therefore we 
need not be astonished that the Christian trinity bearig 
certain resemblances to Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, the tri- 
murti of the Indians, and to the trinity of the Neo-Plato- 
nists. Also the Edda, the bible of old Iceland, teaches a 
trinity of the Godhead, Har^ Efenhar^ Thriti (the High, 
the equally High and the Third), though the latter 
doctrine was probably influenced by Christianity. 

The doctrine of trinity is by no nrieans, as Mohammed 
thought, a relapse from the Jewish Monotheism toward 
pagan polytheism ; but it is a progress in accordance 
with the natural evolution of religious ideas, a progress 
which the human mind naturally made, as it is based 
upon that other trinity exhibited in the law of universal 



ETHICS is the touchstone of any philosophy by which 
one may gauge its depth, its validity and its practi- 
cability. Of the system of Monism and Meliorism, as 
we propose it, ethics form an essential part, necessarily 
to be considered even in the mere outlines of the system. 
It should be stated beforehand, however, that it is not 
the province of philosophy to preach morals. That is 
the work of the preacher in the pulpit. Ethics is a 
science, and the philosopher has the more difEcult task 
to substantiate and to lay the foundation for morals. The 
first question is : " Does it exist at all T and the second : 
, " What is its scientific basis ? i, e,y what is the reason 
,thi:ough which it exists Y' 

Throughout the history of the past, there have been 
two parties of which one may be called the religionistSy 
the other hedonists or utilitarians. The religionists did 
not know of any other basis for ethics than religion, 
both being inseparable to them, and the hedonists de- 
clared that living morally and aspiring to happiness were 
synonymous. To the first party belong the faithful and 
orthodox believers of almost every creed ; to the latter 
naturally freethinkers incline, as having no other or 
better foundation after getting rid of their dogmatic 
belief. Both parties are wrong and lack a real foundation 
of ethics. If ethics is nothing but the commandments 
of a God who is going to reward the obedient and punish 
the disobedient in another world, then religion exists — 
but no ethics. Morals in such a case are a kind of trans- 


cendent and religious utilitarianism. And on the other 
hand, if you have to act well and to do good merely 
because it brings some advantages, as hedonism teaches, 
ethics does not exist either. And such ethics as Mr. Her- 
bert Spencer proposes may correctly be called worldly 
wisdom, or prudence, or the art of living sensibly, or any- 
thing else, but not ethics. 


Religionists usually adhere to the dogma of free will, 
while the hedonists do not accept this doctrine, but pro- 
claim it to be in contradiction to the unyielding law of 
causality. It is the third of Kant's antinomies. The 
religionists take the positive side of the thesis^ and the 
hedonists the negative of the antithesis. If there were no 
freedom of will, ethics would not exist, for it is freedom 
that implies the responsibilities for one's actions. 

Now, according to the law of causality, the actions of 
man result through the same necessity as any event or 
phenomenon. It is a strange confusion to make of neces- 
sity and freedom a contradictory opposition, so that 
either would exclude the other. If a man can do as he 
pleases, we call him free ; but if he is prohibited from 
following motives which stir him, if by some restraint or 
force he is limited, he is not free. But every man, if he be 
free or restrained under a certain condition, under ex- 
actly these and no other circumstances must, of neces- 
sity, will just as he does will, and not otherwise. As to 
this, there is uo doubt, if causality is truly the universal 
law of the world. 

The confusion from which so many errors arise, is due 
to the similarity of the concepts force and necessity. Force 
may lay a restraint on free will. Where force rules, 
free will is annihilated. Necessity, however, is no force. 


Whoever is unable to make this distinction, will never 
get a clear insight into the theory of free will. Necessity, 
in such a case, is the inevitable sequence by which a cer- 
tain result follows according to a certain reason. It is 
the internal harmony and logical order of the world. 
Force, however, is an external restraint, and a foreign 
pressure exercised to check and hinder by violence. Give 
the loadstone freedom on a pivot, and it will turn toward 
the north, of necessity, according to the qualities or 
properties of magnetism. But if you direct it by a pres- 
sure of the finger to some other point, you will exercise 
some force, which does not allow it to show its real 
nature and quality. Were the loadstone endowed with 
sentiment and gifted with the power of speech, it would 
say in the first case : " I am free, and of my free will I 
point toward the north." In the second case, however, 
it would feel, that it is acted upon and forced into some 
other direction against its nature, and would declare its 
freedom to be curtailed. 

It is the same with man ; and the moral worth of 
a man depends entirely upon what motives direct his 
will. An ethical estimate of moral actions is not possible, 
except under the condition that they are the expression 
and realization of free will. The best action would 
amount to nothing, if it were a mere chance result which 
might have occurred otherwise. The chief value of any 
moral deed rests on the fact that the man could not^ under 
the conditions, act otherwise than thus, that it was an 
act oi free will and, at the same time, of inevitable 

So we have succeeded in solving a problem, which to 
Kant was an antinomy of pure reason : and as we have 
in free will a basis for moral action, we may establish 
upon it a theory of ethics which will prove more satisfac- 
tory than that of the religionists or hedonists. 



Kant founds his morals on the categorical imperative. 
In his Critique of Pure Reason he teaches that through- 
out nature there is everywhere the strict inflexible rule of 
causality. But this thesis has its antithesis in the prac- 
tical reason. In the domain of man, he says, liberty 
reigns, and instead of the rigid ^^mustjWx^ propounds 
the moral '^ ought,'' according to the categorical impera- 
tive. • Schopenhauer justly criticizes Kant, showing that 
the establishment of an imperative is in reality an aban- 
donment of an attempt to justify the law of morals. It 
is not a critical but a dogmatical way of philosophizing ; 
and in plain words it means : as we must needs have 
morals and as I cannot give them any philosophical or 
scientific basis, I proclaim them as a guiding (or, as he 
says, regulative) law for human kind prescribed by prac- 
tical reason. 

So the categorical imperative is exactly the same way 
of teaching ethics as that of the religionists, who stand 
on the ten commandments given by God. Since, accord- 
ing to Kant, religion does not afford any longer a basis 
for ethics, and since he can not dispense with morals, he 
makes ethics absolute, standing on nothing, as though 
hovering in the empty space. That imperative is cate- 
gorical and no question is answered as to its reason, 
justification or legitimation. 

Ethics, as taught by dogmatic religion, is as though it 
were for children. God wills it so ; therefore obey. By 
obedience children should show their love, confidence and 
reverence toward their parents. Obedience is the car- 
dinal virtue required. And in the domain of religion, 
indeed, it could not be otherwise. For we must bear in 
mind that religion must attend to the spiritual wants and 
must satisfy the devout cravings and longings of the civ- 


ilized races as well as of barbaric tribes. And Christianity 
takes the highest possible view, as it requires an obe- 
dience not from fear but from love. Religion is no philo- 
sophy, but serves other purposes. While philosophy 
explains ethics scientifically, religion simply preaches 
morals. Hence religious commandments have some- 
thing personal about them. So they are liable to inspire 
enthusiasm, just as feudal allegiance made knights die for 
their lieges. Kant deprives the religious ethics of their 
poetic charm, leaving merely their grandeur and sublim- 
ity. Thus it comes to pass that we feel chilly among the 
glaciers on the Alpine hights of pure reason ; and where- 
ever such ethics are taught, we move in spheres of an 
abstraction which seems superhuman. Virtue is no longer 
fervid love ; it is crystalized to ice, and frigid reflection 
has congealed all enthusiasm into the cold idea of duty, 
according to abstract rules ; and morals no longer well 
up like the living waters of a spring, but operate like the 
correctly calculated gear of a machine. 

According to the ethics of pure reason, that virtue is 
highest which is performed against our own inclination. 
Schiller, though an admirer of Kant, ridicules the rigi- 
dity of his ethics in one of his Xenions. The poet says : 

" Willingly serve I my friends ; but t'is pity, I do it with pleasure. 
And I am really vexed, that there's no virtue in me !" 

And he answers in a second distich : 

** There is no other advice than that you try to despise friends, 
And, with disgust, you will do what such a duty demands." 


The religionist's and in the same way the transcend- 
ental philosopher's ethics are not satisfactory. But the 
hedonist has no right to scoff at or mock the theory, for 


he gives nothing better. He is entangled in one funda- 
mental error, and that is that he supposes man to be liv- 
ing in this world in order to be or to become happy. Ac- 
cording to his theory, happiness is the aim and purpose 
of life, and all human aspiration serve this end. That is 
Mr. Herbert Spencer's doctrine, and the same is taught by 
Mr. Lester F. Ward in his Dynamical Sociology. This 
philosopher overlooks entirely the fact that happiness 
can not be defined. Happiness and its essence is too re- 
lative a thing. If it be the state of mind in which we 
feel at ease, I think that a well-fed pig is a more prac- 
tical philosopher than any great man or sage. The feli- 
city of man depends much more upon his character and 
his nature than upon any thing else ; and a development 
of this will not necessarily evolve happiness. Quite the 
contrary ! Very often, it will lead him into danger, 
destruction and death. 

With regard to the optimism generally exhibited by 
the hedonists, I have to say in accordance with Schopen- 
hauer, the great pessimist, that the world would be a 
failure, if its chief purpose were really happiness. We do 
not live to be happy. Our inmost nature compels us to 
perform some tasks in the service of some thing higher 
than our personal existence, be it in the field of science 
or art, be it by inventions or by extending trade and 
commerce or by the propagation and education of pos- 
terity ; in one word, be it by any progress or improve- 
ment, we are compelled to do some thing in the service 
of humanity. And this task appears to us as a duty, 
which must be done even at the sacrifice of comfort, ease 
and happiness ; and a successful performance of this duty 
is the highest, nay the only happiness of man. 

Pessimism has been preached as religion and taught as 
philosophy; in either case it has vanquished optimism 
wherever they have met. Buddhism conquered the whole 


of Eastern Asia, and it is still to-day the most widespread 
religion on earth. And to Christianity the western half 
of the world seems to be surrendered. Christianity, like 
Buddhism, is a pessimistic religion, which preaches that 
the world is bad in its foundation. The prince of this 
world is the devil, who allures and entices to transient 
sham happiness. Christ came into this life to suffer and 
die, in order that he might show the way of salvation. 
Man is a stranger, a pilgrim in this world, and destined 
to suffer for the purpose of purifying his soul. The symbol 
of Christianity is the cross, an instrument of penal torture, 
and indeed in those times the most infamous one as cruci- 
fixion was the capital punishment for slaves and criminals. 
Certainly, this world does not exist for happiness, or 
Christianity would not have subdued the most civilized 
races on earth. And in the province of philosophy, 
Schopenhauer has forever defeated optimism. He has 
proved conclusively that the commonly-looked-for happi- 
ness, which is usually sought, is an illusion, and that life 
itself is a boon of doubtful value which in most instances 
we would be better rid of He characterizes himself with 
the words of Mephistopheles in Goethe's Faust : 

" I am the spirit that denies, 
And justly so, for all things from the void 
Called forth deserve to be destroyed ; 
'T were better then, were naught created." 


But pessimism, though it was and ever will be victor- 
ious in the face of optimism, is not by any means what 
we should advocate as our contemplation of the world. 
We have not space to argue at length the pro and con of 
this question. However, what pessimism has taught is 
that life in itself has no value, yet that it may acquire 


some by what it contains. If our days are empty of any 
action worthy to be done, then they are indeed spent as 
a tale that is told, although they may be four score years 
or more ; yet is their strength labor and sorrow. For a 
life worthy to be lived is one that is full of active aspira- 
tion, for something higher and better ; and such a con- 
templation of the world we call meliorism. Let the world 
be bad ! our duty is to work with steady labor for its 
improvement. And this aspiration for enhancing and 
progressing, which dwells in our souls as a categoric 
imperative, is^more than simply a regulative law, which 
we accept not so much for ourselves as for the benefit of 
the community and for the human race in general, 
through fear that egotism and anarchy will destroy 
society and ourselves into the bargain. 

Meliorism and the ethics of meliorism have a better 
foundation. It is no mere regulative law, prescribing 
what ought to be, but it is a natural law ruling the deve- 
lopment and progress of the world. Nor could it be 
otherwise. Let us spy into the nature of man as scien- 
tists spy into the objects of their studies, and we shall 
find, that the very core and inmost quality of the world is 
moral ; not as the religionists or orthodox usually sup- 
pose, immoral ; nor does it lead, as the hedonists imagine, 
to the happiness of egotism. 

We believe that human society could not even exist, 
nor could have risen into existence, if there were not an 
ethical law governing the affairs of the world, especially 
those of man. Any social body is possible only on the 
basis of morality ; and morality, though in an ampler 
sense of the word, is a universal law, ruling the universe 
and arranging progress in any development. 



Darwin, no doubt, has been mistaken in many details 
of his system ; there is, however, one point, which may 
be regarded as generally accepted by scientists, viz,y the 
theory of evolution. It is not at all proved,.and scarcely 
ever can be, that all animals on earth descend from the 
same cell. It is, however, more than probable that every 
kind of being, as it exists at present, was not fully deve- 
loped from the beginning, but had to pass through a long 
process of evolution. So the primordial life consisted of 
cells, and organisms arose from different combinations of 
the same. 

Cells possess all properties of organic beings : ali- 
mentation, growth, and propagation. A mother-cell, 
having divided itself and thus produced new cells, is still 
connected with these filial cells, and in their union they 
are more fit to encounter the struggle for life. Hence- 
forth the work to be done for their preservation is divided 
and dispensed in such a way that some cells perform one, 
other cells an other function for the unity thus created. 
It is division of work, according to a general plan ; and 
that is what constitutes an organism. The single organ 
or limb of a body does not exist for itself any more, but 
serves the idea of a larger unity of which it feels itself 
to be a part. The purpose, aim and end of its existence 
is forthwith not in itself but in some thing higher than 
itself. This principle pervades all organic nature. Or- 
ganisms can not exist but under this condition ; and this 
principle is ethical. 

The same principle which produced organisms and ani- 
mals guides them in their further development ; and only 
so far as any creature is animated by this ethical guid- 
ance is it able to develop into some higher thing. It is 
the star of Bethlehem that leads the foremost men of all 


human races to the cradle where a new truth is born and 
the germ of a new idea is thriving. So man and the 
society of man rest on the same principle. The first 
higher unity is the family ; families grow into tribes, and 
tribes form nations. The love of parents has broadened 
into patriotism, and no doubt the next higher ideal will 
be that of humanity. The next higher stage to which 
development ever tends is the idealy and there will be no 
rest in the minds of the single individuals until this ideal 
is realized. After that, new ideals arise and lead on the 
interminable, infinite path of progress, not as Darwin 
says, merely ruled by the famous law of the struggle for 
life, but enhanced by the strife for the ideal. 


This ethical principle is no mere constitutional law, 
proposed by a legfislature as fitted to serve the majority. 
It is, as we have learned, a natural law pervading the 
universe ; and a scientist must be blind to facts if he does 
not discover it. Even in the orgAnic world, I venture to 
say, this law rules, though in a broader sense. Gravita- 
tion forms out of a whirlpool of gaseous materials well- 
arranged solar systems. It is the law of order and unity 
which dispenses to different bodies the different parts to 
be performed. The law of gravitation seems so plain and 
simple, and is so grand in its justice, that, according to 
the rules of pure mechanics, we perceive that it cannot 
be otherwise. It is the ethical law of primordial matter ; 
and if the single atoms of a nebula which are ranging 
still in different directions, could tell us their ideal, it 
would be that of a fully-regulated solar system. The 
chaos will clear, according to simple mechanical rules, 


the ideal will be realized, and the general turmoil will 
give way to order. 

I could never understand how the theory of evolution 
could be arraigned for undermining the ethical feeling and 
moral aspirations of man. It will prove to be doing 
exactly the reverse. An ethical conception of life, we 
should say, is not possible without it. 

The dogmatic theologian bases his morals on the ten 
commandments of Moses, ultimately resting on the 
authority of God. Now this is a sufficient foundation for 
morals to be preached to the people, but not for ethics to 
be scientifically justified and traced to their origin. The 
freethinkers, as represented by Mr. Spencer and others, 
have no ethics, though they may preach morals, and they 
are standing on the wrong principle that man lives to 
be happy. Let them rather look at the world as it is. 
True ethical aspiration produces happiness, though not to 
the aspiring individual. Look at the misery resulting 
from this strife ! How many individuals sacrifice them- 
selves for the ideal till some one of their successors strid- 
ing over their dead bodies is at last victorious. Yet 
though successful, not even he is happy. Personally he 
does not reap the fruit of his trouble, and though the 
thorny crown of martyrdom may become his glory after 
his death, yet during his life he merely feels the pricks of 
the spines. 


This world is not a world of happiness then, but of 
ethical aspiration. Its essence is evolution or a constant 
realizing of new ideals. True, it is the struggle for life ; 
but if you look at it more exactly, is it. life indeed, that 
the progressive part of humanity is striving for } No, 
they sacrifice even their lives for some higher purpose, 


for the ideal. Would it not be a strange contradiction to 
say that people are consciously sacrificing and losing 
their lives in a struggle for life ? 

So according to the doctrine of monism and meliorism, 
to live naturally becomes identical with aspiring morally. 
The innate qualities and talents which appear to be pre- 
sented by nature, and which therefore are justly called 
gifts, according to the theory of evolution are faculties 
inherited from ancestors. The labor of former genera- 
tions is not lost ; its fruit has been preserved and handed 
down to the generation now living. This fact has a 
profound ethical import ! There is nothing without 
work in this world. That easy and apparently effortless 
production which we admire in genius, is not possible but 
by inherited abilities acquired by the labor or ancestors. 
The single man, therefore, ought to be conscious of being 
the product of the labor of ages. And what he does, 
be it evil or good, will live after him so far as his indivi- 
duality impresses itself and influences his contemporaries. 
In consideration of this fact, man may think with more 
reverence of the pasty and in respect to the future he will 
form his life with more earnestness. 

Let us now return to Kant and his categorical impera- 
tive ; he imagined that freedom and causality formed an 
antinomy, and so he teaches his doctrine oi^'musf in his 
Critique of Pure Reason, while that of the ^^oughf has its 
place in his Critique of Practical Reason. In the system 
of Monism the contradiction is eliminated so entirely, 
that the must and the ought are found, to some extent, 
identical. And just the theory of evolution widely criti- 
cized for a lack of ethics contitutes the ought 2iS the main 
spring in the struggle for the ideal. Ask a man like 
Kepler or Gallileo, or any hero in science or art, or industry, 
or of any useful craft who during his life endured hard- 
ships and pain — ask James Watt, who gave almost the 




whole time of his life, his best efforts, his property, small 
,as it was, for his invention and did not reap the least part 
of the immense emoluments which it produced to later 
generations — ask any such man, whether he considers his 
life worth living. It may be that he endured often 
moments of despair, that he was tired of the many 
troubles and misery, and that, dying, he says: **I am 
glad that it is over! It is finished!" However, place 
again before him a new life, conscious of similar aspira- 
tions, give him an ideal and the hope of attaining it, 
and he will endure the same hardships, will suffer the 
same misery, will abstain from pleasure, resign happiness, 
merely for the great aim before his eyes, which becomes 
the purpose of his life. 


The ethics of meliorism, as here explained, character- 
izes the general tendency of morality and traces moral 
actions to their source. However, it can not teach a priori 
what are the morals of to-day or yesterday, what is the 
ethical ideal of America, what is that of Germany, or 
that of England. The standard of morality is different, 
and the ideal of ethics is changing, according to the cir- 
cumstances under which men live. Different conditions 
require different duties ; and to different duties different 
moral ideals correspond. Usually we are inclined to 
judge the actions of men of past times, from the stand- 
point of the moral ideas of to-day. But that is entirely 
wrong, and many apparently barbarous deeds are jusitifi- 
able — even right, with regard to the circumstances and 
requirements of their era. If some hero of olden times 
had acted according to the higher and better ideal of 
these latter days, it would have been considered (and 
sometimes perhaps justly) as weakness on his part. For 


though the ethical tendency, aspiring toward ameliora- 
tion, is the same throughout, yet the evolution of the 
ethical idea shows different stages. History traces the 
causes of these differences, and in every case must point 
out the reason by which it is changed in this or that way. 

Yet the ideal is no mere fiction, it is a power of 
reality, pervading the universe as a law of nature ; and 
with regard to humanity it points out to man the path of 
progress. Progress, if it is guided by the ideal, will pro- 
duce new and better eras for humankind. And if a moral 
tendency were not the fundamental law of nature, there 
could not be any advancement, development, or evolu- 

As we judge about the character of a man from his 
actions, or rather from the purposes which he pursues, so 
we may learn also what the character of the final prin- 
ciple of the world is, from the finis or aim of its evolu- 
tion. And so meliorism completes and supplements the 
doctrine of monism in establishing the truth that the 
final principle of the world is ethical. 

Definitions and Explanations. 

The following list of definitions will serve to explain 

the standpoint of Monism, 

Idealism is that conception of the world which takes 
the subject as its starting-point. 
According to Berkeley and his idealism the subject only 

exists and what we call things are the concepts of the 

subject. Such outre idealism is called spiritualism. 

Spiritualism explains the world solely from spirits {t,e.^ 

the substance of which the subject is supposed to 

consist), and assumes that matter does not exist. 

[Spiritualism is to be carefully distinguished 

from Spiritism^ the latter being the belief in spirits.] 

Critical Idealism. According to Kant, the subject is 
the' datum of philosophy ; and the subject's con- 
ceptions a priori {i, e,, space, time and pure reason) 
are transcendental. With objects we become ac- 
quainted by means of sensation. But objects as 
we conceive them in time and space are mere 
phenomena of the mind, time and space being sub- 
jective and applied to objects by and from the sub- 
ject. So the things (or objects as they are for 
themselves and independent of our conception) 
can not be perceived or known. 

Realism is that concption of the world, which takes the 
object as its starting point. 
Naturally scientists take this view, as it is sufficient 

for investigations in the single departments of nature. 

Philosophically, however, realism lacks a foundation, as 

it is an assumption to take the reality of the world 

granted beforehand. 


Materialism, or the outre realism, explains the world 
solely from matter (/. e,, the substance of which the 
object is supposed to consist). Spirit is merely a 
function of matter. 

When realism, overshooting the mark, ventures to de- 
clare that cognition arises merely from sensations, as did 
Locke (and in such a case it is called sensualism) its 
consequence is scepticism. 

Scepticism (as taught by David Hume) is the conception 
of the world according to which exact cognizance 
is impossible. 

Monism takes in all cases the central position between 
the extremes. It establishes one final principle^ 
producing all (i) motion in the world. The vehicle 
or agency of its efficacy is (2) mattery which means 
nothing more nor less than reality of existence. 
(3) ^P<ice is the form in which it is displayed. All 
regularity, all order, all arrangenjcnt is according 
to the laws of space. Even- logical truths are 
demonstrated by mathematical figures. Time is 
merely the measure of motion. And so space, in 
its most abstract sense, means nothing more nor 
less than order. 

1. All truths depending on space are accessible 
to internal cognizance. 

2. All facts and phenomena produced by the 
properties of matter are accessible to external cog- 

1. Internal cognizance is intuition, and so-called 
pure thought (by Kant styled a priori^ 

2. External cognizance is sensation, and, 

3. a scientific insight into nature is only possible 
by a combination of the two. 

"* "* * * It •* *(* 


According to Monism 

Idealism is right in so far that knowledge rests on inter- 
nal cognizance (the transcendental ideas of Kant). 

Realism is right in so far that the reality of things is 
proved by external cognizance {i. e,, experience by 
means of sensation). 

Spiritualism is right in so far that the inmost principle 
of the world is a spiritual power. 

Materialism is right in so far that all realities are material 


Materialism is wrong in declaring matter to be the sole 

* principle of the world. Matter is merely its out- 

side, not the world itself. 

Spiritualism is wrong in declaring that spirit exists in- 
dependently of matter, spirit being merely the 
interior of the world, but not the universe. 

Realism is wrong in assuming that space, time and the 
truths of pure reason are drawn from experience, 
or in other words, in denpng the a priori. 

Idealism is wrong in assuming that the transcendental 

ideas are subjective, or merely subjective ; in other 

words, in denying the objectivity of time, space 

and the a priori truth generally. 

The subject^ though spiritual in its essence (if looked at 

from the inside or from the standpoint of the subject 

itself), is on the other hand a materially existing object. 


Objects or things are no dead materials, merely fit to be 
acted upon; matter is animated everywhere by forces. 
Force is the intrinsic (and in some respects a spiritual) 
property of matter. 

Force and matter are inseparable ; and objective or 
material existences possess, according to the theory of 


evolution, the ability of developing into conscious sub- 
jectivity. Thus it is proved that subjectivity is an intrin- ^ 
sic, though generally a latent quality of the objects (f . ^., 

Optimism is that view of life which takes for granted 
that the condition of things is good, or at least the 
best possible. Man lives in order to be or to be- 
come happy. Happiness is the aim and end of 
Optimism was the naive Grecian contemplation of life 

and also the ancient Indian faith of the Brahmans. 

Naturally all strictly theistic religions are optimistic ; so 

is the Mosaic doctrine of the Old Testament and the 

Islam of Mohammed. 

Pessimism holds that the world is bad and that man is 
to be redeemed or ransomed from the evil of exis- 
tence. Meditative intuition and suffering are the 
way of salvation. 

Whenever man commences to reflect on the purpose of 
life, pessimism will arise and will overwhelm the prior opti- 
mism. The pessimistic religions are the doctrines of 
Gautama Buddha as well as of Jesus Christ. The pessi- 
mistic philosopher of modern date is Arthur Schopen- 

Meliorism has often been used in the sense that 
humanity, though at present not in a state of happiness, 
will nevertheless reach by and by such an existence, in 
which the miseries of our days will be impossible. That, 
however, is a kind of optimism. For in spite of all 
amelioration, happiness will remain about the same. It 
is relative, and Schopenhauer justly likens it to a frac- 
tion, the denominator of which represents our desires 
and the numerator their gfratifications. Every progress 
allows to increase each of the two. 


The source of error in pessimism is that life is supposed 
to be the purpose of life, or what means the same thing, 
that there is no purpose of life at all. This error is inher- 
ited from optimism ; and from this standpoint, pessimism 
does not consider life to be worth its own troubles. 

Monism^ however, teaches that the cosmos has some 
destined end or finis which makes all lives parts of the 
universal display of life, and so there is some purpose in 
living beyond the range of the individual life. And so 

Meliorism, according to our view, accepts the truth of 
pessimism, that life for itself is without value. The 
value of life lies in what it contains ; its worth is 
its weight or sum of labor performed in the aspira- 
tion after progress. 

The virtues of Optimism (as defined by Plato) are 
/. continence or self-control^ 2. courage^ j. wisdom, and 
jf, justice. It is what Schopenhauer calls Bejahung des 
Willens zum Leben, the affirmation of the will to life (/. ^., 
the intent of living). 

The morality of Pessimism preaches humility. Accord- 
ing to its teaching repentance is the beginning of a new 
life, and the trefoil of its virtues v& faith, hope ^nA charity. 
It is what Schopenhauer calls Verneinung des Willens zum 
Leben, denial of the will to life. 

The ethical ideal of Meliorism is WORK. The purpose 
of life and the duty of man is activity and labor in the 
service of amelioration. It is what Afred Weber calls 
Wilk zum Guten. 

Optimistic morality is positive and its essence is en- 
nobled and elevated egotism. It represents the 
thesis of ethics. 

Pessimistic morality is negative and its essence is 
altruism; it is the antithesis, apparently in con- 
tradiction to the first.